PLEASE VISIT www.CenterforPluralism.com for all information


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

U.S. Bishop Says Jews Have No 'Exclusive Right' To Israel

It is human to feel special, favored, blessed and privileged and that is good, the bad part of the equation is that it breeds arrogance to claim rights over others. Religions teach one to raise above those claims and the wisdom is, the more you feel privileged, the more isolated you become and makes you territorial and insecure and resort to unethical behavior bringing misery to yourselves and others around you.

God has not signed a deal with any one behind our backs. Neither Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus or any one has that deal. If God were to do that, we are painting him as a villain to those whom we don't like. Let's not mess with God. God simply cannot be prejudiced, discriminative and doing favors to one and not the others. God is not a Villain.

Indeed, God wants us to get along, like a mother wants for her children, like a chef wants his customers to enjoy his or her food, like the artist who wants the whole world to cherish her work.

Mike Ghouse
U.S. Bishop Says Jews Have No 'Exclusive Right' To Israel
First Posted: 10-25-10 04:58 PM   |   Updated: 10-25-10 04:58 PM
Vatican Israel
By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) A special Vatican meeting on the Middle East ended Saturday (Oct. 23) with a flare-up in Catholic-Jewish tensions, after an American bishop declared the Bible does not give Jews privileged rights to the land of Israel.

"We Christians cannot speak of the 'promised land' as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people," said Archbishop Cyril Bustros, a native of Lebanon who is currently a Melkite Greek Catholic bishop in Newton, Mass.

"This promise was nullified by Christ," Bustros said at a Vatican press conference marking the end of a two-week session of the Synod of Bishops. "There is no longer a chosen people -- all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people."

Bustros' remark drew swift and strong rebukes from Israeli spokesmen.

"The comments of Archbishop Bustros reflect either shocking ignorance or insubordination in relation to the Catholic Church's teaching on Jews and Judaism," said Rabbi David Rosen, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee and an adviser to Israel's Chief Rabbinate.

Rosen, who addressed the synod in its first week, said the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s affirmed "the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish People, which is inextricably bound up with the land of Israel."

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called Bustros' statement "a libel against the Jewish people and the State of Israel," and expressed "our disappointment that this important synod has become a forum for political attacks on Israel in the best history of Arab propaganda."

"The synod was hijacked by an anti-Israel majority," Ayalon said.

The two-week meeting, which was attended by 185 bishops, most of them from the 22 "Eastern Catholic" Churches loyal to Rome, focused on the precarious plight of 5.7 million Catholics in 16 Middle Eastern countries.

The synod's closing document deplored both Palestinian suffering as a consequence of the "Israeli occupation" and the "suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live." It also reiterated a frequent theme of synod participants by calling for "religious freedom and freedom of conscience" in Muslim lands.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TEXAS FAITH: Does firing Juan Williams improve our understanding of religious diversity?

That's this week's question: Are we better off by forbidding some views, some beliefs - however ill-expressed - in an honest discussion of America's view of Islam?

If you wish this article is worth reading, please feel free to comment at the end of the link, you can do thumbs up or down and recommend the article on top of the article

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

No, we are not better off forbidding any view however ill-expressed in an honest discussion of America's view of Islam. Neither God nor religion should be free from any critical study including Islam and Quraan. Yes, I am a Muslim, and like most Muslims I will defend that freedom to the core.

Indeed, the freedom of speech must be guarded and defended at any cost, that is the only thing that sets us apart from animals to find solutions through a civil dialogue instead of locking in the horns. The truth ultimately triumphs over every thing else and most certainly it is sustainable; Mahatma Gandhi called it "Satyameva Jayate". However to have the moral courage to defend that freedom, its application must be universal and not selective.

The issue is not forbidding some views; it is rather giving all views an equal opportunity. Had we not had restrictions against racial slurs, anti-Semitism, Holocaust Denial and discrimination against women, we would not have come this far. As a civil society, we have ways to go and God willing we will.

The phobias and fears of the vociferous few must be addressed and a fair play in bringing every one up on a level playing field ensures long term stability. We owe it to ourselves to build cohesive societies by separating the myth from reality.

Fear of the strangers is not new, I am sure there are people who get frightened with the "Muslim garbs" and perhaps most of them ignore it as their own bias and move on with life doing their inner Jihad in similar situations. But when a public figure makes a statement it reinforces such bias, we need to guard that in the interests of public safety.

After fueling the bias, Mr. Williams chose not to allay the fears of the public whether one wears a Muslim garb or not, every one goes through the same security checks to ensure safety of every passenger. I rather trust the Airlines and the homeland security than Mr. Williams.

By the way, there is no such thing as a Muslim garb, just as there is no Christian garb unless one's ability to see is blinded and biased; we come in all shapes, ethnicities, races, colors and clothes. Let's see what Halloween brings this season.

Pastor Jeffress of Southern Baptist Church called Islam an evil religion and the holy book of Muslims a false book written by a false prophet, thank God for America, every one has the right to free speech and as a Muslim I will defend his right.

However, we have to challenge our own integrity to tell the truth. My offer to Pastor Jeffress remains simple, a copy of the Quraan will be presented to him and asked to find at least three evil things in it, and if he does, I will join his congregation, what else can one offer? Fox News interviewed both of us, but did not present my full interview, on top of it, not only his full interview was listed but was announced on their site, mine was not, I even produced a video, which they chose not to post. Is that level playing field?

To build cohesive societies, where no American has to live in fear of the other, we have scheduled a conference on Sunday December 5, 2010; it is about Quraan, separating the myths from reality. Details are at www.QuraanConference.com.

I was in another congregation where they were showing a documentary loaded with blatant falsities about Islam which I have written in a report. The congregation was anguished and had questions which I offered to answer, but the movie producer did not allow another point of view. Thank God the entire congregations yelled in unison, "give him the microphone" and at least people got to hear a sampling of another point of view.

As a citizen who has stood up for every American, I am pleased to acknowledge that Dallas Morning News has been justly fulfilling its Journalistic responsibilities to the public and to the nation by presenting different points of view.

No, we are not better off forbidding any view however ill-expressed in an honest discussion of America's view of Islam. Neither God nor religion should be free from any critical study including Islam and Quraan. Yes, I am a Muslim, and like most Muslims I will defend that freedom to the core – Mike Ghouse

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist, educator and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, India and Civil Societies. He heads the Foundation for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and offers Pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day.  He is available to speak at your school, work or place of worship. He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Juan Williams defines Muslim garbs

1. Juan Williams is frightened when he sees Muslim 'garbs', really?
2. Juan Williams is pandering to the fears of the "frightened”*
3. Juan Williams signs up $2 Million contract
4. Juan Williams makes a fool of the right wingers
5. Juan Williams - http://tinyurl.com/2al7s2j
6.  Juan Williams - http://tinyurl.com/27zx43n


The frightened souls are those who seek a false sense of security by creating chaos and pitch one American against the other.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Pluralism and Islam offering pluralistic solutions to the media and public on issues of the day. His blogs and sites are listed at www.MikeGhouse.net

Friday, October 22, 2010

Juan Williams -Sean Hannity show with Ghouse

1:30 CST PM Thursday, October 21, 2010
Actual Show Script will be added as a link.  

Freedom of speech must be guarded and defended at any cost; ultimately truth triumphs over every thing and is certainly truth is sustainable. However to have the moral courage to defend that freedom, its application must be universal and not selective.

Fox is defending Juan Williams saying that he followed it up by supporting Muslims, but that sound byte has done a lot of damage.  It reminded me of my encounter with Sean Hannity and Brigit Gabrielle on the Hannity Radio Show on Thursday, October 21, 2010.

Sean Hannity reads the words off my Blog on the air, “You said, it is good for America that Juan is fired” and jumps on to the free speech bit.  I asserted, “Sean, you did not read the next sentence and the last sentence”

Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Pluralism and Islam offering pluralistic solutions to the media and public on issues of the day. His blogs and sites are listed at www.MikeGhouse.net

Thursday, October 21, 2010


by Mike Ghouse on Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 9:08am

Thanks to NPR for firing him. It is a new precedent in placing bigotry in its place following racial slurs, the N word, the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and now Anti-Islam or anti-religion. This can take us further to purge public statements in the interests of building cohesive societies for America; we have to laud this decision.
Juan made me wonder about his mind-set; was he simply expressing his bigotry or was he bashing Islam to get into the “inner circle” of big boys for fame and fortune? Islam bashing is not only fashionable, it brings big money. The right wingers give them a big hug and help them become big. It is an irresistible bait right wingers throw at greedy men like Juan. (Right wingers are those who mess with the social cohesion of our nation and attempt to set one American against the other)

Thank God again for the media to fire Helen Thomas for criticizing Israel as it set a new precedent. If she does not have the right to criticize a nation, and the media forced her out to retirement, then most certainly NPR has a right to do the right thing.   http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/helen-thomas-you-cannot-criticize-israel-in-the-u-s-and-survive-1.318705  

Juan can remain on Fox, but not on NPR which is usually free from bigotry. Now, it is time for all the media to follow the suit.

Mike GhouseAmericans together For Building a cohesive America
Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Pluralism and Islam offering pluralistic solutions to the media and public on issues of the day. His blogs and sites are listed at www.MikeGhouse.net
# ##


Juan Williams FIRED: NPR Sacks Analyst Over Fox News Muslim Comments Huffington Post   |  Jack Mirkinson First

NPR announced late on Wednesday night that it has terminated the contract of longtime analyst Juan Williams over his comments on Fox News that, when he is on a plane with Muslims, "I get nervous."

NPR's media reporter David Folkenflik broke the news on Twitter.

Williams' comments came during a discussion with Bill O'Reilly on Monday's "O'Reilly Factor." O'Reilly asked Williams if he had been in the wrong during his now-infamous appearance on "The View" last week. (There, O'Reilly's statement that "Muslims killed us on 9/11" caused Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg to walk off the set in anger.)

Williams replied that he thought O'Reilly had, in fact, been right. He continued:

"I mean, look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Williams did go on to tell O'Reilly that he had to be "careful" to stress that he was not talking about all Muslims when he criticized some and that America was not at war with Islam. He also compared blaming all Muslims for the actions of extremists to blaming all Christians for the actions of Timothy McVeigh. (O'Reilly responded that he was "done" being careful.)

In a statement, NPR said that it had informed Williams of its decision on Wednesday night, and that his remarks were "inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR."

Williams had been a contributor and analyst at NPR for decades, but his dual role on Fox News -- where he has also been a longtime and frequent contributor -- drew so many complaints from NPR's listeners that it asked Fox News to stop identifying Williams as an "NPR News Political Analyst" in 2009.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Purple day today 10202010


To commemorate the suicide of 6 young boys who were harassed and driven to committ suicide. This reflects un-civility on our part. We have to work for a society, where everyone's space, culture, ethnicity, sexual orientation and belief is respected. If you can wear or show purple today, it reflects your support for the innocent victims.

Please take the time to watch this 12 minute video. I salute the council man Joe you for standing up for them, it is the duty of whole humanity to do that. Joel, You have restored my faith in you as a human, unburdened by bias propagated by self appointed guardians of religions... to feel the pain and to stand up for the oppressed is what religion teaches one to be, every religion indeed.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ax96cghOnY4

Americans Together
An initiative of the Foundation for Pluralism & World Muslim

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GLBT - A manifesto from our friend Bishop John Shelby Spong


Friends of Walking With Integrity,

Perhaps many of you are already subscribed to "A New Christianity For A New World: Bishop John Shelby Spong on the News and Christian Faith." If so you received this note a few days ago, and perhaps shared it far and wide already. We hope that if you haven't, maybe now you will. As you may know, Bishop Spong is one of the most vocal and passionate advocates of LGBT people everywhere. So when this article came across our inbox well, we knew we had to share it. We do so by permission of Waterfront Media, Brooklyn, NY, Website www.johnshelbyspong.com.

Thursday October 15, 2009
A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant." I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

– John Shelby Spong

Should Christians (and other non-Hindus) beware of yoga?

Texas Faith : Should Christians (and other non-Hindus) beware of yoga?

12:59 PM Tue, Oct 19, 2010 |
Sam Hodges/Reporter

Here's what we posed this week to the Texas Faith panel:
The president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler, caused a stir with a recent column decrying the practice of yoga by Christians. He did a follow-up, not backing down, but noting the fierce reaction to his original piece.

Mohler wrote the column after reading Stefanie Syman's book The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, which describes how yoga has been adapted and secularized here.

Mohler concluded the column this way: "Christians who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a `post-Christian, spiritually polyglot' reality. Should any Christian willingly risk that?"

If you agree with Mohler, why? If you don't, do you see anything objectionable about how a Hindu spiritual practice has morphed into something quite commercial and secular in this country - including "power yoga" and "hot yoga"? Are there cautions you would give to Westerners who want to borrow from non-Western religious traditions?Or should everyone, including Al Mohler, just limber up and chill out?

# # #
Al Mohler, just limber up and chill out

It is human to protect oneself from perceived threats to his or her way of life and Al Mohler’s take on Yoga is the classic case of deficiency in one’s faith.  When Galileo supported the view that Sun was at the center of the universe, the church condemned it as false and contrary to scripture, thus he was forced to spend the rest of his life under house arrest. The discovery shook up the guardians of religion; it was like pulling the rug out from under their feet.  It was a loss of control rather than the perceived depletion of faith. 

Mohler seems to be threatened with the popularity of Yoga, a beautiful practice to bring composure to oneself. He is obsessed with the idea that Yoga is a bait to lure his congregation away into “a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a `post-Christian, spiritually polyglot’ reality”, and then he asks, “Should any Christian willingly risk that?” How mistaken can one be? Yoga is not a mutually exclusive practice, nor is it a religion; it is indeed a catalyst in achieving the union of mind and body that is central to all spirituality.

A similar call was made in Malaysia a year ago, the Muslim clerics called Yoga was Hinduizing their faith and wanted to ban the practice of Yoga in their country, likewise, the radicals among Hindus routinely vandalize the stores that sell Valentines cards claiming that it is an invasion of their culture. The Middle Eastern nations ban display of religious symbols in public space for the fear that they may lose their flock. 

The power of faith is stronger than anything out there, even though it is an intangible possession; people have given up their lives but not their faith. Historic events like Masada, Inquisitions, Bilal, Guru Tej Bahadur and several other events of the world stand testimony to one’s commitment to faith. People should have the freedom to pursue happiness and spiritual fulfillment. 

The insecurity of self proclaimed guardians of faith is exhibited by their desire to keep a tighter leash on their followers without realizing that humans are born to be free, you cannot bind them through fatwas, but freedom.    

Yoga is neither Christian nor Hindu; it is a beautiful gift that originated in India for the benefit of mankind to function cohesively.  All individuals and nations should give and receive the good without labeling it.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Pluralism and Islam offering pluralistic solutions to the media and public on issues of the day. His blogs and sites are listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ 

Friday, October 15, 2010

One on One with the Aga Khan


by Peter Mansbridge

A portrait of Peter Mansbridge of CBC Canada. Photo Credit: Photo by Dustin Rabin.com, Toronto – July 25, 2007. Copyright: Dustin Rabin.
Editor’s Note: The following interview has been excerpted from Peter Mansbridge One on One by Peter Mansbridge. Copyright © 2009 Peter Mansbridge. Interview Material © Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Reprinted by permission of Random House Canada.

The Story Behind the Interview

There are about eighty thousand Ismaili Canadians in our country, and when I decided to interview their spiritual leader, the Aga Khan, his Canadian representatives told me that every single one of them would be watching. They weren’t kidding. Every time I meet an Ismaili Canadian, whether in Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa or any of the other urban areas they seem to favour, I’m stopped and told how great the interview was. One on One airs at least three times every weekend on the CBC, and one of those airings is in the middle of the night.
The audiences at that time are understandably small – often no more than fifteen thousand. So I had to smile when I saw the overnight ratings the first time the Aga Khan’s interview ran: eighty thousand.
Ismailis are a minority in the Muslim faith; in fact, some Muslims don’t even recognize them as Muslims. Their history is deep, ancient and to a degree bitter. Ismailis broke away from the main Shiite Muslim faith about twelve hundred years ago over who best represented the true Imam, or leader of Islam. I’ve seen some Ismaili friends at work shunned by other Muslims, who refused to accept them as friends and barely acknowledged them
as colleagues.
His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is the leader of the world’s Ismaili community, and he has spent many of his fifty years as the Aga Khan trying to counter those differences. He’s become a well-known and well respected international figure and his admirers exist far beyond his faith. He established the Aga Khan Foundation to improve living conditions and opportunities for the poor, whatever their faith, origin or gender. He was a great friend of Pierre Trudeau; his trips to this country during the Trudeau years were frequent and they continue that way now.
While the Trudeau relationship became broader in scope, it was based on the former prime minister’s decision in the early seventies to admit to Canada thousands of Asians who had been expelled from Uganda by the brutal dictator Idi Amin. Many of the new arrivals were Ismaili, and they, and the Aga Khan, have never forgotten Canada’s open doors in their time of need.
All of those points had made me determined to invite the Aga Khan onto One on One during one of his frequent Canadian visits. The opportunity came in early 2007.
When I flew to Ottawa for the interview, I took with me a good friend and colleague. Sherali Najak is the executive producer of Hockey Night in Canada, and years ago he worked with us on The National. He’d begged me and my regular director, Fred Parker, to let him direct the Aga Khan shoot. Freddie, normally very protective of his turf, said, “Absolutely,” and so did I. Sherali, you see, is Ismaili. His family story traces back to those Uganda days, and for him this opportunity to be in the same room as the Aga Khan was going to be a life-defining moment.
The interview was enjoyable and informative. The Aga Khan is a moderate Muslim leader at a time when many Muslims and Christians are wondering if they will ever get along. His thoughts on that topic were provocative, but we started by trying to understand his fondness for Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam and direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad pictured at Rideau Hall on October 7, 2010, where he was received by Canada’s 28th Governor General, His Excellency David Johnston. Photo: John MacDonald, Ottawa. Copyright.
Peter Mansbridge: You must love Canada – you keep coming back here.
Aga Khan: I do.
PM: What is the quality that you most admire about this country?
AK: I think a number of qualities. First of all, it’s a pluralist society that has invested in building pluralism, where communities from all different backgrounds and faiths are happy. It’s a modern country that deals with modern issues, not running away from the tough ones. And a global commitment to values, to Canadian values, which I think are very important.
PM: Let’s talk about that a little bit, because I wonder whether your confidence in Canada has in any way been shattered a little bit in these past few years, especially since 9/11. There have been tensions in this country, as there have been in many other Western countries, between Muslim and non-Muslim societies – on any number of levels, on both sides, about history, religion, tradition and integration within society. How much has that concerned
AK: It concerns me and at the same time it doesn’t, in the sense that, to me, building and sustaining a pluralist society is always going to be a work in progress. It doesn’t have a finite end. And so long as there is national intent, civic intent to make pluralism work, then one accepts that it’s a work in progress.
PM: Let me go a little deeper on that, because it raises a question you have often raised, and that’s the issue of ignorance. You reject the theory of a clash of civilizations, or even a clash of religions. You believe there’s a clash of ignorance here, on both sides of that divide. And you’ve felt that way for a long time. I was looking through the transcripts of an interview you gave in the 1980s in Canada where you were warning the West that it had to do a better job in trying to understand Islam. That clearly hasn’t happened.
AK: No, it hasn’t happened. A number of friends and people in important places have tried to contribute to solving that problem, but it’s a long-established problem. It’s going to take, I think, several decades before we reach a situation where the definition of an educated person includes basic understanding of the Islamic world. That hasn’t been the case. And the absence of that basic education has caused all sorts of misunderstandings.
PM: What’s been the resistance?
AK: I think it’s essentially historic. I think that Judeo-Christian societies have developed their own education, and basic knowledge of the Islamic world has simply been absent. Look at what was required for an education in the humanities; for example, I was a student in the U.S. and education on the Islamic world was absent.
PM: Is this a one-sided clash of ignorance?
AK: No, I think there is ignorance on both sides, and I think very often there’s confusion. I think more and more there has been confusion between, for example, religion and civilization. And that’s introducing instability in the discussion, frankly. I would prefer to talk about ignorance of the civilizations of the Islamic world rather than ignorance just on the faith of Islam.
PM: What we’ve witnessed in the last couple of years, not just in this country but in other Western countries as well, is what we call “homegrown terror,” where you see young Muslim men – born in the West, educated in the West – moving towards a fundamentalist view, a militant view of Islam. Why is that happening?
AK: There is without any doubt a growing sense amongst Muslim communities around the world that there are forces at play that it doesn’t control, that views the Muslim world with, let’s say, unhappiness or more. I would simply say, however, that if you analyze the situation I don’t think you can conclude that all Muslims from all backgrounds are part of that phenomenon. Secondly, if you go back and look at the communities where this is common, you will find that there’s a long-standing unresolved political crisis in the community. It’s very, very risky, I think, to interpret these situations as being specific to the faith of Islam. It is specific to peoples, sometimes ethnic groups, but it’s not specific to the face of Islam.
PM: That must really concern you. Your followers see you as a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, the same prophet that some of these minority fundamentalist militant groups hold up and claim as the reason they’re doing the acts they’re doing.
AK: Again, I think one has to go back and say, “What is the cause of this situation?” With all due respect, if you look at the crisis in the Middle East, that crisis was born at the end of the First World War. The crisis in Kashmir was born through the liberation of the Indian continent. These are political issues originally; they’re not religious issues. You can’t attribute the faith of Islam to them. I think the second point I would make is this tendency to generalize Islam. There are many different interpretations of Islam. As a Muslim, if I said to you that I didn’t recognize the difference between a Greek Orthodox or a Russian Orthodox or a Protestant or a Catholic, I think you’d say to me, “But you don’t understand the Christian world.” Let me reverse that question.
PM: Canada’s role in Afghanistan is well-known, has been since 9/11. So is the Aga Khan Foundation, which is in there in a big way in development matters. The question is simple, really: with all the help that’s been given to Afghanistan, why is the Taliban resurging? Not only in numbers, but in popularity as well. Why is that happening?
AK: I think there are a number of reasons, but the one that I would put forward as the most immediate is the slow process of reconstruction.There was a lot of hope that once there was a regime change and a new government and the political process had been completed, the quality of life would change. It hasn’t changed quickly enough. It’s taken much more time than I think many of us had hoped to get to isolated communities in Afghanistan and improve their quality of life. It’s an organizational problem. Even amongst the donor countries there have been differences of opinion. The management of the drug problem has not been a united effort by any means. So there are a number of things that have slowed up the process. And there are still acute pockets of poverty in Afghanistan: people who don’t have enough food, people who don’t have access to any education, any health care. It is clear this sort of frustration causes bitterness and the search for other solutions.
PM: Is there time to turn it around? Because you get a sense that the pendulum has swung back considerably in the last year or so. There’s this growing sense of frustration among the Canadian people and a belief that it’s a war that cannot be won.
AK: I would beg to differ on that. I think what we’re seeing in Afghanistan, at least from my own network of activities, is an increasingly visible two-speed process, where in the north and the west you’re beginning to see quantifiable change. In the east and the south you’re not seeing that. Two-speed change is going to have to be managed with great care, but it’s not a good reason to give up by any means.
PM: Can you do both at the same time? That’s the debate in Canada: to run a military operation – talking specifically about the south – while trying to introduce aid and development in an area that is not secure.
AK: It’s very difficult to do, but necessary. Every step counts. Certainly in areas where there’s insecurity, I think the availability for populations to participate in these development activities does go down when quality of life changes. And I believe the same thing with regard to the drug problem.
PM: How much of the problem in Afghanistan is a result of the decision on the part of the Americans and the British to move into Iraq?
AK: Very substantial indeed. The invasion of Iraq was something which has mobilized what we call the Imamat – the community of Muslims around the world. Every Muslim that I have ever talked to has felt engaged by this.
PM: On what level?
AK: Baghdad is one of the great historic cities of the Islamic world. Iraq is not a new country; it’s part of the history of our civilization. It’s been a pluralist country and has produced great philosophers, great historians, great scientists. Reverse the question again. What would the Christian world think if a Muslim army attacked Rome? I think there would be a general reaction in the Christian world, not just an Italian reaction.
PM: But it seems that even in the Muslim world, that invasion has caused major divisions – the clash inside Islam itself, between Shia and Sunni.
AK: That was entirely predictable. Entirely predictable. What you are effectively doing is replacing a Sunni minority government in a country that has a Shia demographic majority. And again, what would happen – I’m sorry to come back to this, but it’s important – if a Muslim army went in to Northern Ireland and replaced one Christian interpretation by another? Imagine the fallout that that would cause in the Christian world itself.
PM: So what happens now? Can Iraq be put back together? And who would be doing the putting back together?
AK: I think that’s a very, very difficult question, and I would not want to predict the answer. Because I think that the whole process of change in Iraq has regional dimensions which have got to be managed. They’re not national dimensions in Iraq. Those regional dimensions also were predictable, let’s be quite frank about it. I think they’re going to need to be managed with very, very great care.
PM: Is the answer, as some suggest, the splitting of it into three regions with the main two combatants, the Shia and the Sunnis, actually separated by borders?
AK: That’s really, I think, an issue where the leaders of the three communities have got to agree or not. In my life, in the past fifty years, I have been uncomfortable with the creation of unviable states. So I would ask this question: if you did do that, what components of Iraq would be stable, viable states in the future?
PM: Who’s showing leadership in this world right now in terms of the major global issues? Who do you look to as a leader, whether it’s a political leader or not?
AK: I think there are a number of people in the U.N. system who’ve shown leadership, who have shown balanced judgment on these issues. Because when all is said and done, it’s the balance of the judgment that counts. And it’s understanding the issues. I think, amongst others, Kofi Annan has been remarkable in his understanding of the issues. He’s also had a team of people around him who are very good.
PM: It’s quite a condemnation though of the political leaders of our generation that you don’t point to one of them, no matter which side of the divide we talked about earlier. You don’t see one there?
AK: I’m looking at the regions of Africa, Central Asia, and I’m asking myself within this context who’s having the greatest influence. I think that certainly the U.N. Development Program…I think the World Bank and Jim Wolfensohn changed direction very significantly and dealt with real human issues and has done a wonderful job.
PM: Some people suggest that there’s been a movement in terms of real leadership away from governments to private foundations, philanthropic organizations – yours being one, the Gates Foundation, and you can name a number of them. Do you see that happening? Is that a good thing?
AK: I see it happening, and I welcome it wholeheartedly. Because what we’re talking about, I think, is accelerating the construction of a civil society. I personally think that civil society is one of the most urgent things to build around the world. Because one of the phenomena you see today is the number of countries where governments have been unstable. Progress is made where there’s been a strong civil society, and that’s a lesson that I think all of us have to learn. My own network is immensely committed to that. And so what the Gateses and others are doing is providing new resources, new thoughts to create civil society. Whether it’s in health care or education, it’s the combined input which is so exciting and so important.
PM: We touched briefly earlier on the new Global Centre for Pluralism, which will be established here in Canada through the Aga Khan Foundation and the people of Canada through the Government of Canada. What is your hope for that? What do you see that doing, accomplishing?
AK: I hope that the centre will learn from the Canadian history of pluralism, the bumpy road that all societies have in dealing with pluralist problems, the outcomes, and offer the world new thoughts, new ways of dealing with issues, anticipating the problems that can occur. Because in recent years I think we’re seeing more and more that no matter what the nature of the conflict, ultimately there is a rejection of pluralism as one of the components. Whether it’s tribalism, whether it’s conflict amongst ethnic groups, whether it’s conflict amongst religions, the failure to see value in pluralism is a terrible liability.
PM: Why Canada?
AK: Because I think Canada is a country that has invested in making this potential liability become an asset. I think that Canada has been perhaps too humble in its own appreciation of this global asset. It’s a global asset. Few countries, if any, have been as successful as Canada has, bumpy though the road is. As I said earlier, it’s always going to be an unfinished task.
PM: Next year is your golden jubilee: fifty years. What’s your – I was going to say what’s your dream for the world in that year, but I guess dreams are dreams. What’s your realistic hope?
AK: In areas of the world which are living in horrible poverty, I’d like to see that replaced by an environment where people can live in more hope than they’ve had. I’d like to see governments that produce enabling environments where society can function and grow rather than live in the dogmatisms that we’ve all lived through, and which I think have been very constraining. And I’d like to see solid institutional building, because, when all is said and done, societies need institutional capacity.
PM: Those are grand hopes. I’m sure they’re shared by many. How realistic do you think it is that we can achieve anything like that?
AK: I think we can achieve a lot of that. I think the time frame is what we don’t control. I remember in the mid-fifties reading about countries in the developing world being referred to as basket cases. Fifty years later those are some of the most powerful countries in the world -  enormous populations. They’re exporting food when fifty years ago we were told they’d never be able to feed themselves. They had an incredible technology deficit fifty years ago. Today they’re exporting technology, homegrown technology. So I think there are a number of cases out there where we can say what we don’t control is the time factor. But society does have the capability to make those changes.
PM: So there is reason for hope.
AK: I believe so, God willing.
Postscript by Peter Mansbridge: As inspiring as his message was, the lasting memory I take from that day was more personal. It was the beaming face of Sherali Najak standing next to the Aga Khan for that special photograph he had so wanted to get. The man who regularly bosses Don Cherry around looked pretty tame all of a sudden.
Interview Material © Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Reprinted by Simerg permission of Random House Canada.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quran (Koran) Conference in Dallas, an American effort to build cohesive societies

The Conference puts a Quraan in the hands of panelists made up of Pastors, Rabbis, Pundits, Shamans, lay persons, elected officers and the public. It is to demystify the myths about Quraan and Islam. An American effort to build cohesive societies.


Oct 10, 2010 - DALLAS, TEXAS - The Foundation for Pluralism and the World Muslim Congress have announced a conference on Quraan in Dallas to be held between 3:00 PM and 6 PM on Sunday, December 5, 2010 at the Unity Church of Dallas.  

Representing the organizations, Mike Ghouse adds, "As members of diverse family of faiths, we seek to demystify the myths and falsification of our respective faiths. It is time for all of us to gather and understand the Qur'aan, the holy book of Muslims, which has been the subject of attack by a few among us. Indeed, the conference is a positive response to negative sermons delivered from a few pulpits of America this year."

The uniqueness of the event is highlighted by facing the "terrifying passages" of Quraan.  For the first time in history, the actual verses from Quraan will be read directly and explained by non-Muslim panelists made up of Pastors, Rabbis, Pundits, Shamans, Clergy, lay persons and elected officials who have a deep interest in bringing Americans together on common grounds.  The Muslim scholars either affirm their reading or refer to the Quraan for further understanding. It would be indeed a first hand educational experience.

It is time now to replace the ill-will with goodwill; no American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other. The purpose of this conference is to remove such myths in an open forum in the public and restore the cohesiveness of our society and work towards building a safe and secure America.  

Bring your children to experience the multi-cultural costumes in a designated room for them.

Refreshments will be served after the event.


Please R.S.V.P. to confirmattendance@gmail.com  
Direct your inquiries to QuraanConference@gmail.com .

For details visit website http://www.quraanconference.com/

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist, educator and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam and Civil Societies. He heads the Foundation for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and offers Pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day.  Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Why do our faiths shape some political views, but not others?

Why do our faiths shape some political views, but not others?
10 Members of the Texas Faith Panel respond to the question.

"An element of hypocrisy is embedded in what is conveyed from the pulpit. An excessive emphasis is placed on homosexuality which the scriptures do not "appear" to favor, but that is not the only item that is disfavored. An equally strong punishment is prescribed for adultery and incest which are down played by the clergy as though they don't exist." Mike Ghouse, Foundation for Pluralism.

Full Story at: http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2010/10/texas-faith-why-do-our-faiths.html 

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist, educator and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam and Civil Societies. He heads the Foundation for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and offers Pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day.  Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Interfaith Speaker Mike Ghouse

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, educator, moderator and an activist of Pluralism, Islam, India, Peace and Civil Societies.  He is committed to working with the media and the leadership offering insights and solutions to effectively managing the multi-religious, multi-ethnic and pluralistic societies in the making. 

He presides the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other, he has dedicated his life to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress.

"Wisdom of Religion" - all the beautiful religions of the world was an hourly Radio talk show broadcasted daily.  Over 700 hours of educational programming was relayed learning about religious, humanistic and the pluralistic traditions. ( ADD LINKS - DMN_2003 - DMN 1996 - DMN 1999)

"Festivals of the World" was a weekly Radio program on Saturdays, where the essence of every festival was shared, so we all can have an idea of how other people celebrate or commemorate their holidays. (more on right panel)  

Workshops titled “Understanding Religion – every beautiful religion” were conducted for two years.  

Mike's purposeful presence in the media is to foster critical thinking.  He is blessed to have been given the time on national and local TV, Radio and Print medium to share pluralistic solutions on the issues of the day.


Mike has appeared on Public Television, Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC and other channels and has been on NPR, KERA, KRLD, WBAP, Progressive Radio and several other Radio talk shows. The theme is for people to see and value a moderate point of view.

Over 800 articles on the subjects of Pluralism, interfaith, Islam, Religion, Civil societies, Terrorism, India and Peace have been published in journals, websites and major news papers around the world. 
Mike has two books on the horizon;
Basic Islam; everything you always wanted to know about Islam, and

Basic Pluralism – everything you always wanted to know about the idea of co-existence among religious communities.


Mike moderates several discussion groups numbering nearly 6,000 members, among them are the Foundation for Pluralism, World Muslim Congress, Dallas Indians and other groups.

Facebook has earned him nearly 4500 friends discussing issues that face us daily.

The Journal of pluralism reaches over 31,000 people around the world.

He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer and believes that by learning to respect the otherness of others and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Mike has instituted and established several annual events in Dallas, some of them are Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides (Since 2007) Unity Day USA, a 9/11 Memorial event (since 2005) and Thanksgiving Celebrations (since 1993).

Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Friday, October 8, 2010

God's Will - most get it, some don't.

Our limitation is our imagination. Even though Hubble is throwing out images of beyond imaginative realms of distances, it is still perhaps a miniscule of the whole. Our beliefs are molded by what we can comprehend. I believe we have created God in our own image as we understand it, even though we may subscribe to different ideas propagated by different religions, ultimately, it is our own personal understanding that we are guided by and most of us may be in sync with one or the other expressions and some of us are clearly not.   

Different explanations have been put forward by different religions to understand the phenomena, but most commonly accepted ones are; that he (she or it) is the causer of our life, the creator, the Nourisher and the sustainer, and we call him (her or it) by many names but mean the same energy.

Of the many religions, two jump to my mind; Hinduism and Islam. In Hinduism God is understood by a thousand names called the Sahasarnama, generally it means a large number and not necessarily 1000 precisely, similarly Muslims recall him with 99 Names, once again, it is not 99, it is reflective of infinitum.

Is God a Villain, a bad guy? Heck no!

Life begins with survival instinct, when the sperms have to fight to meet their destiny, with rare exceptions, only one makes it, all others wither away. The process of elimination continues until one succeeds. That is how we are formed and that is how we are programmed.  De-programming from that brings us salvation, nirvana, Moksha, nijaat,  mukti or freedom.

"Human reproduction is the hallmark of life –the cycle begins with preparation of female to recieve a sperm from her partner, the symbioisis of which leads to a beautiful partnership called a baby. It starts with the release of egg from one of the ovaries at ovulation.Its amazing how from 200 to 300 million sperms, only 1 sperm makes its path to successful propagation of its future in the form of a child. This sperm travels against odds, literally runs a race with its batchmates to go meet its partner--- "the egg", to create a beautiful relationship, and in this process develops the attitude of survival of the fittest It takes only one sperm to fertilize the egg." Shamim Sadiq., M.D.

Our survival hinges on our security, some of the conflicts are real but most of them are imaginary. In that imaginary conflicts, the individuals driven by their security-survival needs manufacture their own God to fight off another God. One of the Generals from Pentagon had famously said that our Lord is not the same as their Lord.
The idea of making a villain out of God is an old one. Perhaps that is the driving reason in all religions to emphasize, assert and reiterate the oneness of God. Again, two religions jump to mind; Judaism and Islam, where the scriptures prevent one from falling into prey of dividing God up. They ascribe no image and no description to the causer and creator of the universe.

Most people get it right, some don’t.

Religions are nothing but wisdom of goodness to create a world of least conflict and more harmony; no matter what religion, the idea is same. Most people get it right, some don’t.

But our nature is molded by the security needs of survival. Even though there is no need to ward off the other, we live with mutually exclusive thoughts; either you or me.

Religions are about behavior modification, to take us away from our fears of “you or me” to a collective “us”. Religions are about co-existence; most people get it right, some don’t.

Our insecurities cook up differences where there are none, and drive “you or me”  wedge  through the labels such as monotheists, theists, atheists and polytheists; most people get it right, some don’t.

Does God have an enemy? Satan cannot be his enemy, he abodes in the same domain. The enemy is within, the “me and me” enemy. If we can transcend to “We, we and us”, life would become an abode of heaven. No wonder Religious have called on “oneness of humanity (Baha’i, the whole world is one family (Hinduism), Killing one is like killing the whole humanity (Quraan, Torah), Love thy neighbor (Jesus), we are our own cause of misery (Buddhism)… Most people get it right, some don’t.

Is God an exclusive property of any? Heck no!

If someone thumps his chest and loudly proclaims, “THIS is my country” or “THIS Country belongs to me” the general take is he is excluding you from that “My” country thing. It seemed he wanted to have it all. What would be your response? Hell no, this is my country too. Our forefathers made sure we understood the notion of “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Most people get it right, some don’t.

What is God’s will?

If I am given 100 words to describe it;

“God has created us intentionally diverse and wants us to get along, just as a chef wants his patrons to enjoy her cooking, just as a mother wants her children to get along, just as an artist wants his patrons to appreciate his work, God wants his product to be fine and working in cohesion, he wants his people to get along… just so if there is another one like him managing another universe, he can proudly tell them – I have the best, my people are one and get along and have created a heaven for themselves” Let’s help God; our creation. I know you can add more to it. Please do it.

Unedited script from a speech; Balance, Justice; Whose God is a drop in the Ocean? Idea of one God was touched upon.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist, educator and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam and Civil Societies. He heads the Foundation for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and offers Pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on issues of the day.  Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/