B U L L E T I N

Happy New Year!

1. New Year Message - A purposeful life – Huffington post
2. A Note about Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney and Fox News –request
3. Note about Bridgette Gabriel’s comment on Fox News – upon request
4. American Muslims are proud of taking the right step - Link
5. Moderate Muslims Speak out? Link

==========================================

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ayodhya: Proud of my India

Ayodhya: Proud of my India

The court has finally made the decision and so far peace has prevailed.  I was not able to sleep last night late until 3:00 AM and thank God, goodness has yet prevailed. If people don't agree, let it go to Supreme court, we have to prove to the world that we are a nation that respects rule of Law. Let other nations in the world look up to our model and never, every dream of becoming like the very ones we denigrate.

There are over 4000 articles to read, I have read a few and am sure you all have read as many. There are two that really are patriotic articles, where they wish the best outcomes for all Indians.  

Every society is composed of Good, Bad and Ugly and each one reflects what he or she is loaded with. There is famous saying that you cannot expect clean water from a sewer and certainly we will find a lot of hateful material floating and I do not expect good coming out of the hard core hate boys, be it Muslims, Hindus or any one. The ratio of good to bad is 99:1. It is time for good people to speak up.

Lets show the world that we are a pluralistic democracy and that we honor the rule of law. No doubt a few on both sides will create trouble, I hope a good majority of us will not fall prey to the temptations and remain good. Let's take pride in being good citizens.

Jai Hind

Mike Ghouse

Ayodhya issue: 'This is ultimate test of Indian faith'

Published: Thursday, Sep 30, 2010, 8:42 IST
By Sumaa Takur | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report_ayodhya-issue-this-is-ultimate-test-of-indian-faith_1445489

Even as the crucial verdict on the Ayodhya issue is going to be made public today, the city's intelligentsia is crossing its fingers. The city's influentials and bright minds are hoping that people demonstrate, when most needed, the main teachings of peace and harmony that the two religions of Hinduism and Islam stand for.

"In recent times for all the wrong reasons, India has been poorly portrayed and this is an opportunity to show the world that we are truly descendants of a great civilisation. As a nation, it will test our true self, and we should do nothing that makes our heritage covered with shame," says Subroto Bagchi, gardener and vice-chairman, MindTree, a global IT solution company. "We must maintain calm irrespective of the outcome of the verdict on Ayodhya. Any act against a fellow human being will be an act against God," he says.

Jnanpith award winning author, Prof UR Ananthamurthy, says the people should transcend the need for a physical space to practice religion. "Islam is a great religion. The greatness of Islam lies in the fact that Muslims do not even need a mosque to pray. I have seen this everywhere. When it is time to pray, Muslims do not go looking for a mosque. They turn west and surrender themselves to Almighty God. They can pray even on the pavement. This religion has built itself to sustain and survive without a symbolic building,"
he says.

"This is true for the Hindus as well. Ram should not be merely a historical figure born in any particular place. He is a figure of mythology more truly than historical truth. For, it is a perennial truth for devotees of Rama. Ram is everywhere. I recall a famous statement by a former chief minister of Kerala, EK Nayanar. He once said: 'I always thought Ram was born in Kerala'," adds Ananthamurthy.

He is of the opinion that both religions must have an understanding of the other religion. Members of each religion must also build the capacity to keep the religion alive beyond physical symbols. "A good example of communal harmony worth remembering now is in Bidar. During the Ganesha Chaturthi festival procession, the Hindus stop ringing the bells and the loud noises when they pass by mosques where Muslims are praying.

They are sensitive to the fact that the Muslims need silence when they pray. Each should respect the others' space," he says.

Lokayukta justice N Santosh Hegde appeals to the citizens of Bangalore to listen to their humane side. "We are humans, first and foremost. We belong to a religion by the chance of birth into a household or by fate. Let not the latter take away the human in us," he says.

Captain GR Gopinath, the man who 'simplified' flying in the country, asks people to beware of opportunists. "All parties and leaders must step back and respect the court verdict on Ayodhya. We have to focus on good governance to reduce corruption which has become so brazen and pervasive it is going to destroy the country," he says.

There are more urgent matters in the country that demand our focus, he says. "We must aim to provide affordable and quality rural education, healthcare for common people and pool all our resources to build a robust infrastructure. This will enable us to create jobs across India for the vast population which will have to migrate from agriculture," says Gopinath. He adds that the prerequisite for all this to happen is communal harmony.

"We must start by rejecting all self-serving fundamentalists and politicians who are dividing this country, and stand united for peace and communal harmony.

Swati Ramanathan, co-founder, Janagraha, says, "There is so much to fight for —- this is not one of them. There is no winning or losing in this. Of what value is a sentiment of hate and intolerance that corrodes society and our very souls? As humanity there is more that connects us than divides us. Mandira or Masjid, these are mere shells —- our God resides within us. Peace be with us.''

 

 

 

India of 2010 is different from that of 1992'

Published: Friday, Oct 1, 2010, 2:54 IST

By Team DNA | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA 

 

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_india-of-2010-is-different-from-that-of-1992_1445887

 

Peace will prevail and we will be patient," was the most common sentiment prevalant in the city on Thursday. As the verdict was announced and televsion sets turned on, social organisations and activists were happy to note that the judgment was accepted gracefully by both the communities.

"It is heartening that the India of 2010 is vastly different from that of 1992. The common man is more aware of the need for peace and tolerance," said Jatin Desai, national secretary of Pakistan-India Forum for Peace and Demoracy.

Activists in communally sensitive areas went into an overdrive, going door-to-door urging people to accept the judgment gracefully, holding meetings with neighbours and talking to the youth about the importance of the judgement.

Some hurriedly put up banners to communicate themessage of peace. "It is important to respect the verdict and maintain peace and harmony," said Ibhrahim Tai, president of the Muslim Council Trust.

Activists observed that the mood in both the communities was that of acceptance though there was a bit of confusion and dissent over the three-way sharing of the land.

"Most of the people we have met have gracefully accepted the verdict as they have decided that they will not let anybody take advantage of their emotions," said advocate Mubin Solkar, president of Indian Mumbaikars for Peace and Community Togetherness (IMPACT).

Solkar said his organisation will conduct a 'peace programme' for Hindus and Muslims over the next few days so that vested interests don't misinterpret the judgment and instigate communal unrest. "We have submitted a memorandum of our programme to the deputy general of police, commissioner of police and other senior officers," he said.

A few voices of dissent in the Muslim community were drowned by the mostly relieved tone of the community at large. "If the matter is challenged in the Supreme Court, we will support it," said Sarfaraz Mohammed, a resident of Bharat Nagar.

Many felt the court had taken a "somewhat neutral stand". "All parties are getting an equal share. Religious and political leaders should not approach the Supreme Court and let the matter rest for everyone's good," said Altaf Patel, a shop owner from Bharat Nagar, Bandra.

 

 

 

Hindu-Muslim amity can't be built on the basis of denial

 

 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TEXAS FAITH: Why do we pray for Christopher Hitchens?

TEXAS FAITH: Why do we pray for Christopher Hitchens?
12:21 PM Tue, Sep 28, 2010 Permalink Yahoo! Buzz
Wayne Slater/Reporter Bio E-mail News tips
http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2010/09/texas-faith-why-do-we-pray-for.html

Christopher Hitchens is dying. Hitchens is a terrific writer, a bracing thinker and, in recent years, a famous and implacable atheist. He has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, which might have slowed his debates with religious figures in support of his book God Is Not Great, but it hasn't tempered his tart observations on life.

Hitchens has, of course, an irreverent take on all the offers of prayer. Why, he asks, should God "be swayed by the entreaties of other sinners?"

"The offer of prayer can only have two implications: either a wish for my recovery or a wish for a reconsideration of my atheism (or both). In the first instance, a get-well card - accompanied by a good book or a fine bottle - would be just as bracing if not indeed more so. (Also easier to check.) In the second one, a clear suggestion is present: surely now, at last, Hitchens, your fears will begin to vanquish your reason. What a thing to hope for! ... My provisional conclusion is that those who practice incantations are doing so as much for their sake as mine: no harm in that to be sure and likely to produce just as much of a result."

So why do we pray for Christopher Hitchens? So he'll get better? So he'll see the light? Or for our own sake, not his? Why do religious people pray for others, even those who don't want the prayers?

Our distinguished Texas Faith panel -- some of whom have crossed paths directly with Hitchens, some of whom have watched him from afar -- reponded in a big way, after the jump:

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas:

Our altruistic nature nudges us to wish well for others, and thus we pray for Christopher Hitchens for a speedy recovery. Prayers and wishes are the words to express one's desire to include everyone to be a part of the universal energy that we long for regardless of our race, ethnicity, sex, belief or ability. We are simply wishing him well in our own way that we know of, and I am sure he has the capacity to receive the good on its face value.


A few generations ago most people were not aware of the Wicca tradition, met a Maya or shook hands with an Atheist. It was a taboo to talk with an Atheist, and no one dared call himself one. And now, we have accommodated the atheists as a part of the fabric of our nation. Indeed about 10% of the population identifies themselves as Atheist, Agnostics or Humanists. Even the Saint Mother Teresa doubted the existence of God.

Our belief in the creator arrogates us to believe that our prayers "will make him see the light" and "feel good about ourselves" that we have done our duty in praying without realizing that there is not an element of consideration in a prayer transaction.

Prayer is an effortless way to overcome our own biases and pat ourselves for being a Good Samaritan; it is also an expression of our unselfishness. To save other's life, people have jumped into frozen lakes, on the rail road tracks and have risked beatings by protecting the unprotected.

It is rare for an individual to not pray for the other, particularly a public figure. However the exception was Rev. Pat Robertson when he justified Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's illness to deprivation of God's grace. Despite my difference with his policies, I prayed for Sharon to get well and bring about a positive change for all. My maternal grandfather gave the examples of Prophet Muhammad, who stood up and paid respects to the Jewish and other funerals. There is indeed an inclusive prayer that we recite at least once a day; May God forgive our parents, our teachers, our community, the living and the dead. It is part of bringing the whole humanity into the universal fold. We have come a long way; our language reflects our inclusive attitudes and acceptance of the otherness of other, indeed Jesus, Muhammad, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and several others have paved the way for an inclusive tradition.


The pluralism prayers we wrote a decade ago has now become even more embracive; we rephrased it as pluralistic wishes to be inclusive of those who do not believe in the theist version of the creator. Indeed, we redefined pluralism from "respecting the God given uniqueness of each one of us" to "respecting the genetic uniqueness of each one of us." We are one family and one world as the Hindu Scriptures call it "Vasudeva Kutumbakam".

There is something very powerful about inclusiveness, as the Jewish scriptures say Ve'ahavta la'ger, you must love the stranger for that guaranteed happiness which comes from falling the barriers, it feels home. Wishing well restores the positive energy that gets drained with exclusiveness.


So, we cannot fathom excluding any one from leading a good life and good wishes that are due every soul. The word prayer implies invoking God where as wishes reflect one's desire for the well being of other.

JAMES DENISON, President, Center for Informed Faith and Theologian-in-Residence for the Baptist General Convention of Texas:

An open letter to Christopher Hitchens:

I am one of your many admirers. We debated the reality and relevance of Christianity last year--I found you to be pugilistic on stage and gracious afterwards. I have prayed for you to choose your brother's faith, and in recent days for your physical healing. So our question is addressed to people like me.

What is the logic of praying to an all-knowing, all-loving, unchanging God? Prayer doesn't inform, persuade, or change him. Rather, it positions us to receive what he intends to give. You must be close enough to your computer to read these words. When we pray, we draw close enough to God to receive his gifts.

But what about those who don't believe he exists? It's no surprise that an atheist would view prayer as incantation. Your opinion, however, does not change reality. A man who does not believe airplanes can fly is not likely to see above the clouds.

I am not asking God to violate your God-given freedom to accept or reject his love. Rather, I am asking him to use Christians and circumstances to help you see the reasonableness and relevance of a personal relationship with your Creator.

Nor am I praying that "your fears will begin to vanquish your reason." Rather, I pray that your fears will help you see that what you call "reason" is actually opinion. As C. S. Lewis observed, the man who denies the sunrise doesn't harm the sun. But, I would add, it would be better for him to step into the shade.

KATIE SHERROD, Writer, film producer and progressive Episcopalian activist, Fort Worth

I find immensely sad Christopher Hitchens' conclusion that the only reasons someone would pray for him are "either a wish for my recovery or a wish for a reconsideration of my atheism (or both)." That statement reveals a heartbreaking wizened view of love, an achingly bleak vision of humanity. I suggest that most believers would pray for Hitchens simply because he is a suffering human being. His atheism is irrelevant. God cares for him and so we pray that his suffering may be relieved. It is not in our hands how God might choose to do that.

Besides, I have no idea how one would go about weeding out those who don't want the prayers. Even if we do not pray for Hitchens by name,every Sunday Episcopalians pray a version of this prayer: "For the aged and infirm, for the widowed and orphans, and for the sick and the suffering, let us pray to the Lord." Our daily prayers also include prayers for the suffering.

We pray for others because we are not isolated bits of biology floating about the surface of our planet. We are human beings, bound to one another in a community of mutual responsibility. My existence affects yours, whether or not you know me or I know you. Moreover, Christians believe we are bound together in the Body of Christ, and one part of the body cannot say to other, "I have no need of you."

Hitchens is part of God's Creation, worthy of respect. But his disbelief in the power of prayer does not invalidate my belief that prayer does have power, even if that power is a mystery I can never understand.

And so each night I will continue to pray, "Keep watch dear Lord with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake."


DEAL HUDSON, President Morley Publishing Group and President Catholic advocate

I, for one, haven't prayed for Hitchens yet. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's the fact that he doesn't want our prayers, and I have other, more immediate, causes for concern such as my older sister in Houston who faces serious surgery.

Hitchens, though, is a very charming person -- we were together once at a dinner party where we spent some time discussing Australian fiction, particularly the work of Patrick White who I quite admire. You would have never known he could be so disagreeable in his public utterances.

But, back to the fact that I have yet to pray for him. If I were to pray for him I would pray, of course, that he recover -- I wish no man death, especially one who can discuss the merits of the Australian novel -- and that he be awakened to the benefits of faith in the God he doesn't think exists. Oh, I should add that he kiss and make up with Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, with whom he had a famous verbal rumble at the Union League Club in NYC some years ago. Bill is one of those wonderful friends who is not afraid to throw a punch or two at those who deserve it, such as Hitchens who was making a lot of noise about the "dark side" of Mother Teresa. Yes, Hitchens writes beautifully, but like Nietzsche said when he came out from under the spell of Richard Wagner, and I paraphrase, there are artists who whip up as much dazzling beauty as possible, not for the sake of beauty but to convince you they are God.

That is my prayer for Christopher Hitchens, that he discovers the real center of the universe.

CYNTHIA RIGBY, W.C. Brown Professor of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary:

I pray for Christopher Hitchens because I don't want him, or any other creature, to suffer. I pray for him because I don't believe God wants him to suffer, either. I believe God is in the business of life - life abundant, even - and not death. That God desires joy, and peace, and the ever-fuller realization of love for all, and for every.

I believe God is sovereign. What this means, I believe, is less that God hoards "all the power" and more that God knows all, sees all, and is in some way or another (think: cross, not just resurrection) "in charge" of all. My conviction that God is sovereign makes suffering more - not less - of a problem. If God desires life, and God is sovereign, why so much death? This question puts me back on my knees, considering: how does this sovereign God work? What does the cross say about the character of God's sovereign rule? In what ways does the sovereign God share power with me, inviting me to participate in the healing of this world?

I get back up off my knees and go buy that get-well card, and good book, and fine bottle. And I make a delivery to Hitchens, or to whoever is suffering. Because Hitchens is wrong about at least one thing, and right about at least one other. Here's where he's wrong: there's no either/or between (1) praying for suffering people and (2) offering them life-affirming gifts (cards, books, wine). In my experience, there is actually a pretty direct correlation between those who pray for and those who knit for, cook for, and write little notes for. And here's where Hitchens is right: there is no reason why God should "be swayed by the entreaties of other sinners." If the point of prayer is to make a case for why God should heal Hitchens (or whomever), we might as well skip it and go straight to the Hallmark aisle.

God is swayed not by us "making a case," but rather by God's own, ongoing desire to be with and for us in this world, to comfort us, to heal. God is love; Christ is the resurrection and the life; the Spirit intercedes with groans and murmurings too deep for words when we cannot pray. These are crazy kinds of things to believe, but they are crazy things about a very different God than Hitchens rejects: a God who domineers and manipulates. Such a God, he's right (again), is certainly NOT great.



AMY MARTIN, Executive Director, Earth Rhythms; writer/editor, Moonlady Media

My prayer for Christopher Hitchens is the same I have for everyone, called The Four Immeasurables from the Buddhist tradition:

May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness. May all sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May all sentient beings never be separated from the happiness that is without suffering. May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free from both attachment and hatred, holding some close and others distant.

I wish for Hitchens' highest good, which I acknowledge as a piddly human with a two-pound brain is something beyond my capability to know. The desire to pray for others religious conversion confuses me. Only the individual knows what religion, or no religion, works for them, makes sense to them. I'm sure such proselytizers would vigorously protest someone insisting on converting them.

There can be no peace between people, nor peace between religions, without starting from a place of humility before the divine, something that proselytizers lack. As Dr. Robert Hunt points out, any religion is the penultimate answer. The ultimate answer is beyond ours to know.



JOE CLIFFORD, Pastor and Head of Staff, First Presbyterian Church of Dallas:

Hitchens has a tendency to reduce complex questions to simplistic either/or paradigms. When it comes to faith, he reduces the question to a choice between fundamentalism and atheism. Ironically, he thinks in the same literal, black and white categories as the fundamentalists he loathes. He does the same with prayer; it's either a wish for his recovery or a wish for his conversion. Life and faith are far more complex than either/or categories. We pray for Christopher Hitchens because we're Christian. His identity as an atheist does not shape our practice. We pray for Christopher Hitchens because that's what people of faith do for the sick, and unfortunately, he is very sick. We pray for Christopher Hitchens because our faith teaches us he is a child of God, and therefore our brother in the human family. May God's abiding presence bring him courage, comfort, and healing in body, mind and soul.


WILLIAM B. LAWRENCE, Dean, Professor of American Church History, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University:

The health crisis that is now confronting Mr. Hitchens has managed to reveal just how small and inadequate is his understanding of prayer. He imagines only two possible reasons that a Christian would pray to God in regard to Hitchens' circumstances--either for his recovery (which he finds pointless) or for his religious conversion (which he finds appalling).

Actually, there are other reasons that a Christian might pray in this situation. And none of them is in the form of a petition asking God to do something with or for Mr. Hitchens. One, drawing upon the tradition of such sacred texts as Psalm 88, is to express in prayer the devastating sense of emptiness that any of us feels in the presence of suffering and death--our own, or another's. A second, drawing upon the arguments of Job, is to demand an intellectually satisfying answer to the existential questions that tantalize every human being regarding great injustices. A third is to echo the concerns of Lazarus' sibling, who insisted that Jesus' failure to arrive on time with a cure had led to Lazarus' death, and wonder why Mr. Hitchens or any of our contemporaries had such regrettably bad timing as to acquire a disease before researchers found a cure for it.

Prayer does not exist simply for the purpose of asking that God provide stuff--a job, a touchdown, a healing, a religious conversion, or anything else on the long wish-lists written by human beings. Prayer is a means for communicating with God, complaining to God about things we dislike, praising God for things we like, asking questions that can be posed to nobody else, confessing emptiness that can be admitted to nobody else.

Decades ago, when I was a pastor in Pennsylvania, I had two different ministerial encounters with men who were facing death and who both (separately) declined my offer to pray with them. One said he saw no point in it, and I believe that he was sincere. Just because his name was on the rolls of a Methodist Church did not mean he actually believed anything that we had affirmed. I respected his point of view and did not impose prayers upon him, though we did continue to list his name among the members for whom we requested intercessions. The other was an active member who, by all evidence, was a genuine believer. Nevertheless, his critical illness spun him into a downward spiral of depression. When I asked if I might pray with him, he boldly rejected the idea. I responded that he could refuse to let me pray with him in his hospital room, but that he could not stop me or anyone else in the church from praying for him to be delivered from the depths of the melancholy into which he had descended. Somehow, in the mystery of the moment, I told him that we were going to pray for him anyway. It was not long after that event, that signs of healing began to appear.

Mr. Hitchens is a brilliant and articulate man. But his ego may restrain him from understanding that prayer involves a great deal more than his intellect has grasped thus far. Sometimes prayer is an affirmation of hope, sometimes a cry of despair, and sometimes a confession of what one does not understand.

RIC DEXTER, Men's Division Chapter Leader, Nichiren Buddhist Soka Gakkai lay organization

Prayer is an expression of our heartfelt desire, whether it is in petition, praise, or thanksgiving. Even those who support no religious tradition know of and express heartfelt desire. When we see another suffering we experience a heartfelt desire to see them relieved of their suffering.
Buddhist philosophy teaches there is no separation between the internal world of human beings and their environment. The joys and sufferings that occur in our inner life are reflected in our external circumstances. Prayer, in Nichiren Buddhism, is not a purely a meditative turning inward, but an act of manifesting our inner qualities, bringing them out into the real world. Awakening harmony and balance within our life affects everything within our environment, including the life of that person who is suffering.

Accompanying prayer with action, like visiting or sending a get-well card, isn't such a bad idea either. Noted atheist Dan Barker stated that one of the strongest factors in recovery from an illness is a sense of connectedness with a community and people who care about you. Notwithstanding the other values in prayer, it is always an expression of that care and concern.
Daisaku Ikeda has written "that the ultimate form of prayer is in fact a vow--a vow to contribute to the happiness of others." The vow of a Buddha is to open, to show, to awaken and cause people to enter the infinite realms of wisdom they already possess. This is not a call to abandon reason, but a determination for the fulfillment of reason.

He further states "Prayers based on the Mystic Law" (ultimate truth) "are not abstract. They are a concrete reality in our lives. To offer prayers is to conduct dialogue, an exchange, with the universe. When we pray, we embrace the universe with our lives, our determination. Prayer is not a feeble consolation; it is a powerful, unyielding conviction..."


LARRY BETHUNE, Senior Pastor, University Baptist Church, Austin

Prayer is the deepest expression of faith. Think of it in comparison to a continuing conversation with a life partner. While the relationship may travel through times of feeling close or distant, communication is always critical to its health. By giving our attention in prayer to the God who is continually attentive to us, we experience relationship with God.

Unquestionably, prayer is a helpful psychological exercise of self-analysis and problem-solving. But the experience of Christians (and most other religious traditions) is that prayer places us mindfully into the presence of the ultimate Other we call by many names. It is more than just talking to oneself. In addition to our own experience, we have the testimony of the most respected saints and mystics regarding the central role of prayer in the spiritual life.

In the Christian faith we pray for others because we are instructed to do so. Our prayer changes us, especially our attitude towards and our engagement with those for whom we pray. Our prayer also has effect in directing God's attention to our concerns, about which God - like any loving parent - cares.

But prayer is not automatic. It is not a means of controlling other people by getting God to violate their own free will. Nor is it a magical means of manipulating God to do our bidding, the attempt of which is the biblical definition of "taking God's name in vain." Hence, Christians are taught always to pray in the spirit of, if not also by the very words of Jesus: "Not my will, but Yours be done."

Therefore, I pray for Christopher Hitchens as I have been instructed: for healing of his mind, body, and spirit. I pray with no arrogance that I am a better person than he, nor to interrupt the freedom of his personal journey. I pray with sadness that the incarnation of religious belief by us deeply flawed believers has not led him to any encounter with the ultimate Divine, but instead to question God's very existence. And I pray with gratitude for the challenges and questions he has pressed on those of us who do believe. Beyond this, I commend him in trust to the God who is merciful and just, whose will will be done.


GEOFFREY DENNIS, Rabbi, Congregation Kol Ami in Flower Mound; faculty member, University of North Texas Jewish Studies Program

Mr. Hitchens is a brilliant man whose opinions (even the ones I disagree with) are fairly arrived at and defended with wit. I've enjoyed many of the things he's had to say and write, but even if I didn't, I would wish him well, at the very least. As for offering a prayer for him, well, I do, and it's selfish really. See every Father's Day and birthday I get presents I don't really want, but I accept them gratefully because they are tokens of affection. At other times I dismiss the prayers and advice of would-be spiritual mentors who wish me to "see the light," "accept Jesus in my heart," or "see the truth of the Bible" the same way they do.

So I pray for him what I would want to receive - sentiments of sadness, support, caring. I pray for the improvement of his body, I leave the improvement of his soul to him. I pray that he will continue to be honest with himself and that he preserve his most cherished beliefs as long as they remain meaningful to him. If he needs to change what he believes, then I pray he has the courage to do so. I'd send him a book (I love receiving books), but I don't know where to send it. I already have an address on hand for a prayer.


DARRELL BOCK, Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary:

This one is simple. prayer is an expression of caring and concern rooted in love and appreciating that God asks us to interact with Him about others. So we pray even for those who may not appreciate it.


JONATHAN TRAN, Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics, Department of Religion, Baylor University

I have to admit that I've never been overly impressed by the atheism offered by Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Much more interesting are atheists like Slavoj Zizek who rather than proffer banal deconstructions of religion offer sophisticated atheistic reconstructions. Besides, the likes of Terry Eagleton and Marilyn Robinson have shown why the physicalism and naturalism offered by Ditchins (as Eagleton conflates them) prove less than viable moral alternatives.

But I also admit to being quite impressed with Hitchen's life. I recently saw an extended interview by Charlie Rose and the man who I'd previously seen as unreflective, mean-spirited, uncharitable, and arrogant came off as reflective, kind, charitable, and arrogant (one can't ask for everything). Especially impressive was Hitchens' reasoning about prayer: he didn't believe in God in the good times, why believe in God now? There is something right about the austerity of such an argument. To be sure there is also something terribly sad, but in Hitchens we see someone willing to follow the logic of their atheism and committed to finding joy in the midst of it. I remember thinking to myself, "Too bad this person isn't a Christian; he'd be a good one."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Muslims for Freedom of Speech

A DEFENSE OF FREE SPEECH BY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MUSLIMS

We, the undersigned, unconditionally condemn any intimidation or threats of violence directed against any individual or group exercising the rights of freedom of religion and speech; even when that speech may be perceived as hurtful or reprehensible.

We are concerned and saddened by the recent wave of vitriolic anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment that is being expressed across our nation.

We are even more concerned and saddened by threats that have been made against individual writers, cartoonists, and others by a minority of Muslims. We see these as a greater offense against Islam than any cartoon, Qur’an burning, or other speech could ever be deemed.

We affirm the right of free speech for Molly Norris, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and all others including ourselves.

As Muslims, we must set an example of justice, patience, tolerance, respect, and forgiveness.

The Qur’an enjoins Muslims to:
* bear witness to Islam through our good example (2:143);
* restrain anger and pardon people (3:133-134 and 24:22);
* remain patient in adversity (3186);
* stand firmly for justice (4:135);
* not let the hatred of others swerve us from justice (5:8);
* respect the sanctity of life (5:32);
* turn away from those who mock Islam (6:68 and 28:55);
* hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant (7:199);
* restrain ourselves from rash responses (16:125-128);
* pass by worthless talk with dignity (25:72); and
* repel evil with what is better (41:34).

Islam calls for vigorous condemnation of both hateful speech and hateful acts, but always within the boundaries of the law. It is of the utmost importance that we react, not out of reflexive emotion, but with dignity and intelligence, in accordance with both our religious precepts and the laws of our country.

We uphold the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Both protect freedom of religion and speech, because both protections are fundamental to defending minorities from the whims of the majority.

We therefore call on all Muslims in the United States, Canada and abroad to refrain from violence. We should see the challenges we face today as an opportunity to sideline the voices of hate—not reward them with further attention—by engaging our communities in constructive dialogue about the true principles of Islam, and the true principles of democracy, both of which stress the importance of freedom of religion and tolerance.


SIGNATORIES:

Prof. Hassan Abbas, Quaid-i-Azam Chair, South Asia Institute, Columbia University
Anisa Abd el Fattah, Founder and Chairwoman, National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW)
Khaled M Abdel-Hamid, MD, PhD, writer
Ammar Abdulhamid, Executive Director, Tharwa Foundation
Imam Johari Abdul Malik, Director of Outreach, Dar-Al-Hijrah Islamic Center
Mehnaz M. Afridi, PhD, Adjunct Professor (Judaism, Islam & Genocide Studies) Antioch University
Asma Afsaruddin, PhD, Professor of Islamic Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, PhD, Director, Minaret of Freedom Foundation
Ahrar Ahmad, PhD, Professor of Political Science, Black Hills State University
Prof. Akbar S. Ahmed, PhD, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University
Osman Ahmed,PhD, President Islamic Society of Essex County, Newark, NJ
Prof. Parvez Ahmed, PhD, Fulbright Scholar & Assoc. Prof. Univ. of North Florida
Barbara Al-Bayati, Co-Founder, Orphan Whispers
Aman Ali, writer, stand-up-comedian
Javed Ali, founder and publisher, Illume magazine
Wajahat Ali, playwright, journalist, and producer of “Domestic Crusaders”
Sumbul Ali-Karamali, JD, LLM (Islamic Law), author of “The Muslim Next Door”
Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad al-Amriki, Director, Muslim America
Salam al-Marayati, Pres., Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Shahed Amanullah, Editor-in-Chief, Altmuslim
Patricia Anton, Board member, Muslim Peace Fellowship
M. Saud Anwar, Co-Chair, American Muslim Peace Initiative
Abdul Cader Asmal MD, PhD, Past President, Islamic Council of Mew England
Aref Assaf, PhD, President, American Arab Forum
Hussam Ayloush, Exec. Director, CAIR Greater Los Angeles Area
Hazami Barmada, Pres, American Muslim Interactive Network (AMIN)
Bahar Bastani, M.D., Professor of Medicine, S.L.U., Secy. General Shia Islamic Education Center, VP of IMANA-St. Louis
Victor Ghalib Begg, Senior Advisor, Chairman Emeritus, Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan
Jannah bint Hannah, activist, al-Fatiha Foundation
Farah Brelvi, Board of Directors, ACLU-NC
Arsalan Bukhari, Executive Director, CAIR-WA
M. Ali Chaudry, PhD, President, Center for Understanding Islam (CUII)
Kamran Cheikh, Activist, Committee member, Muslims for Peace, Justice & Progress (MPJP), researcher for Deen Research Center (DRC)
Noor-Malika Chishti, Vice Chair, So. CA Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, Representative, the Sufi Order International, Member, World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations
Robert D. Crane, JD, author of numerous books
Prof Golam Dastagir, PhD, Visiting Research Scholar, New College, University of Toronto, Canada
Almoonir Dewji, blogger - “That We May Know Each Other”
Mustafa Stefan Dill, blogger;/PR/social media analyst for Muslim issues; musician
Ramsey El-Moslimany, member, Board of Directors, Islamic School of Seattle
Lamia El-Sadek, political and human rights activitist
Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach for the Islamic Society of N America (ISNA)
Mona Eltahawy, journalist
Aziz Enhaili, Political analyst, columnist for Tolerance.ca
Yusuf Estes, Chaplain ret., author of many books, public speaker
Prof. Mohammad Fadel, PhD
Fatemeh Fakhraie, Editor-in-Chief, Muslimah Media Watch
Mike Ghouse, President, World Muslim Congress
Iftekhar Hai, President, UMA Interfaith Alliance
Rabia Terri Harris, Founder and Coordinator, Muslim Peace Fellowship
Hesham Hassaballa, M.D., author, journalist, blogger - “God, faith, and a pen”
Amir Hussain, PhD, Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University
Iftekhar Hussain, Chair, Board of Directors, CAIR-PA
Arsalan Iftikhar, author, human rights lawyer, blogger - “The Muslim Guy”
Jeffrey Imm, Director, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)
Ghazala Irshad, journalist, blogger - “The Floating Lotus”
Nakia Jackson, writer
M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD, President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Safi Kaskas, President & CEO Strategic Edge
Mohja Kahf, PhD, Assoc. Professor of Comparative Literature, Univ. of Arkansas, author “The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf”
Prof. Muqtedar Khan, PhD, author of several books, Blogger - “Globalog”
Farah Kinani, Journalist, blogger - “Global Voices”
Shaikh Ahmad Kutty, Resident Senior Scholar, Islamic Institute of Toronto
Faisal Kutty, Visiting Asst. Prof. of law, Valparaiso University School of Law and Adjunct Professor of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto)
M. Junaid Levesque-Alam, writer, blogger - “Crossing the Crescent”
David Liepert, M.D., blogger and author of “Muslim, Christian AND Jew”
Radwan A. Masmoudi, PhD, President, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID)
Melissa Matos, President, Al-Ghazali Legal Society, Saint Louis University
Shelina Merani, community activist, artist, blogger “Muslim Presence”
Yahya Merchant, Interfaith Worker, Outreach contact for Islamic Center of Conejo Valley CA
Melody Moezzi, JD, MPH, writer and attorney
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, author of many books of poetry
Ebrahim Moosa, Assoc. Professor of Islamic Studies, Dept. of Religion, Duke University
Lt. Col. Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad, U.S. Army Chaplain
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, President Sound Vision
Arman Musaji, artist
Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim (TAM)
Muneeb Nasir, President, Olive Tree Foundation, Editor IQRA Canada
Q. Amin Nathari, National Representative, Islam in America Movement (IAM)
Ahmed Naumaan, PhD, Director, Karsaz Inc.
Imam Abdul Hai Patel, Dir. Interfaith Relations, Canadian Council of Imams, Muslim Chaplain University of Toronto & York Regional Police
Aziz H. Poonawalla, PhD, scientist and blogger - “City of Brass” on Beliefnet
M.Waheed-uz-Zaman Rana, Imam, Prof. Emeritus, Dept. of Surgery, Saint Louis University
Hasan Zillur Rahim, PhD, journalist
Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid, The Circle Group
Prof. Hussein Rashid, PhD, blogger - “Religion Dispatches”
Shafi Refai, President, United Muslims of America
Irfan Rydhan, Co-Founder of Muslim Unity Foundation
Muhamed Sacirbey, lawyer, diplomat, writer
Louay Safi, PhD, Common Word Fellow, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Christian Muslim Understanding, Georgetown University
Ghulam Abbas Sajan, Director Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada
Robert Salaam, blogger - “The American Muslim”
Raquel Evita Saraswati, activist, writer, blogger
Sarah Sayeed, President of One Blue
Sophia Rose Shafi, MA, MTS, doctoral candidate (Islamic Studies), writer
T.O. Shanavas. MD, Vice President, Islamic Research Foundation, author
S. Abdallah Schleifer, Distinguished Prof., Dept. of Journalism & Mass Com, American University Cairo
Ricka Shorish, M.S., R.N., volunteer/consultant, Avicenna Community Health Center
Jihad Shoshara, community organizer and activist, Chicago
Jafar Siddiqui, blogger - “Penjihad”
Prof. Laury Silvers, PhD
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, PhD, Sr. Lecturer, Islamic Studies & African American Religion, University of Florida
Prof. Ibrahim B. Syed, PhD, President of Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc., author
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Nat’l Director, Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, Islamic Society of N America (ISNA)
J.Tayeb, MD, President, CAIR-MI, ISNA founders committee member, Vice chair, HUDA free Clinic, Detroit
Pamela Taylor, Co-founder Muslims for Progressive Values, Panelist for On Faith
Tayyibah Taylor, Editor, Azizah Magazine
Dr. Hashim El-Tinay, President, International Peace Quest Institute (IPQI)
Mahdi Toourage, PhD, Assistant Prof., U of Western Ontaio
Tarik Trad, writer, humorist, photographer, artist and activist
Asma T. Uddin, Attorney, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Editor, Altmuslimah
Wahida Valiante, President, Canadian Islamic Congress and Chair of Islamic History Month Canada
Jason van Boom, Host of “Islam and Authors”, writer
Amina Wadud, PhD, consultant on Islam and gender, visiting scholar Starr King School for the Ministry
Danya Wellmon, Co-Founder Women Transcending Boundaries interfaith group
Svend White, blogger - “Akram’s Razor”, activist, writer
G. Willow Wilson, author of “Butterfly Mosque” and “Air” graphic novel series
Ani Zonneveld, President, Muslims for Progressive Values

http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_defense_of_free_speech_by_american_and_canadian_muslims/0018241

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Catholic priest to Pastor Jones

A message from an Arab Catholic priest to Pastor Jones who wants to burn the Quran

A message from Father Elias Zahlawi (a Syrian Catholic priest) to Pastor Terry Jones (who is calling for the burning of the Quran).

Translated from Arabic.
http://www.thenewalphabet.com/details5692.html

Respected Pastor Terry Jones,

I have read your worldwide call for the burning of the Quran on this coming 11th of September. Your message stated that you are a pastor of one of the churches in Florida in the United States of America.

As an Arab Catholic priest from Damascus (Syria), I wondered what would be your objective, as an American pastor, for such a call?

I wondered, and I ask you: What are your responsibilities as a pastor?
Are you really a Christian pastor serving God in a church in America?
Or are you merely a layperson from America who is pretending to be in the service of Christ?

Did you give in to your nationalism (Americanism) rather than giving in to your Christianity?

What is your aim with that call?

(Do you wish) to further fuel hatred among people? Is that consistent with (the teachings of) Jesus, whom you represent in your eyes and the eyes of many others?
Tell me, is there in the character of Jesus, in his words or in his actions anything that would remotely justify even a hint of promoting disdain and hatred among people?

Have you forgotten that Jesus was completely for love, forgiveness and peace? Have you forgotten what he taught us when he told his disciples and the people after them to tell God the heavenly Father of all to “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who wrong us”? You overlooked or forgot that when Jesus was hanging on the cross and being subjected to insults and vile words, he raised his voice, saying, “O Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Who, then, do you represent or who are you trying to guide with this call of yours?

Isn’t it enough what has been happening since September 11, 2001: the killing, destruction, displacement and starvation of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, from Palestine – the land of Jesus – by your leaders in particular, headed by George Bush, who was claiming direct communication with God?

Wouldn’t you agree with me that with your call (to burn the Quran), you have demonstrated that you are really unfamiliar with Jesus and that you desperately need to re-discover him again to be a true Christian pastor who calls, like Jesus, for the comprehensive love and full respect for every human being and a commitment to the full and wonderful teachings that call upon all believers, without exception, to always stand beside the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged?

My brother Pastor Terry Jones. Can you tell me, honestly, if Jesus came today, whose side would he take?

Is it the side of the powerful and arrogant oppressors who dominate the world and endlessly plunder its resources, violate its laws and international treaties, and kill people in their countries and destroy houses on top of their owners and turn them into refugees across the earth? Or is it the side of those who are oppressed, the disadvantaged, hungry, and homeless?

Did you forget what Jesus himself would say on the Day of Judgment to each person in front of him: “All that you did to one of my brothers, you actually did to me”?

I wonder if you have overlooked or forgotten that Jesus did not point in that speech on the Day of Judgment to the religion of any of those mistreated persons. He only referred to everyone as belonging to the human race and to his standing with the deprived, the weak, and the oppressed in this world.

So how could you as an American Christian pastor stand with the oppressors from your country whose injustice has spread around the world?

Aren’t you afraid of when you appear before Jesus on Judgment Day and you are burdened with a heavy conscience, like your leaders who are blinded by the gods of power, money, control and greed?

My brother Pastor Terry. Do you think I am being unfair if I conclude that your hatred toward Islam is what drove you to such a reprehensible call for the burning of Islam's holy book, the Quran?

But let me ask you, as a Syrian Roman Catholic priest: What do you know about Islam? It appears to me from your call to burn the Quran that you are ignorant of Christ and Christianity, and that makes me believe that you are also ignorant of Islam and Muslims.

Believe me, it is not my intention to indict you and it is not my intention to engage with you in a religious debate about Christianity or Islam. However, after I prayed for a long time, let me suggest for both of us to make a joint effort on this coming September 11.

You might ask me what effort can we do jointly when you are in Florida and I'm in Damascus?

Here is my suggestion.

I invite you to visit Syria, where you will be my guest and the guest of many of my Muslim and Christian friends. Syria is a country populated mostly by Muslims and in which Christians are indigenous to the land and have lived side-by-side with Muslims for centuries and centuries.

Come and don’t worry about anything.

Come and you will find out about Islam and Muslims what will comfort you, please you, surprise you, and even lead you, from where you are today in Florida, to invite all people to live in respect, love and cooperation among all people.

This is what people need rather than the un-Christian call to fuel the sentiment of hatred and division.

Come to Syria and you will be amazed by the good nature of people and their faith, their relations, friendly cooperation and openness toward all strangers.

Come to Damascus to witness and live an experience that is not in your mind nor the mind or expectation of all the churches of the West or their bishops, pastors, and clergymen.

Come to see and hear two choruses, Christian and Muslim, singing together during Christian and Islamic holidays to praise Allah, the One God, who created us all, and to whom we all return.

My brother Pastor Terry.

I call you my brother and I am serious about calling you brother and about my invitation to you. I await a word (of reply) from you. Trust me that you will find a brother in Damascus, actually many brothers.

Please contact me and don’t delay. I am waiting for you in Damascus.

I ask God to make our anticipated meeting the beginning of a long and interesting path that we undertake together with other brothers in Damascus and around the world.

How desperate is the need of our world for bright roads.

Come, the road to Damascus is waiting for you.

Father Elias Zahlawi

Religious Freedom Needs the Rule of Law

Editorial: Religious Freedom Needs the Rule of Law
http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/opinion/editorial-religious-freedom-needs-the-rule-of-law/397403

The right to worship freely is clearly enshrined in our Constitution. But to our nation’s chagrin, this guarantee may only exist in theory, and not yet in practice. As the recent spate of violence against religious minorities — such as Christian congregations and the Ahmadiyah sect — has shown, the pluralism that our nation’s founding fathers wisely envisioned has yet to materialize.

In a country as wide and as diverse as ours, ignoring pluralism would mean eliminating the very ties that have been able to bind us together as a nation for so long. It is the recognition of this plurality, and the need for all Indonesians to mutually respect each other’s differences, that has been able to make this nation so strong.

But the latest incidents, including the assault on members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church in Bekasi, have not only sullied the tolerance this nation is known for, but also threaten to endanger our national unity and cohesion.

Many people have blamed these problems on the 2006 joint ministerial decree on the building of houses of worship, issued by the attorney general and the ministers of home affairs and religious affairs.

They say it encourages official discrimination against religious minorities and provides justification for the violence increasingly being directed against these minorities.

That is why recent statements from Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, have come as such a breath of fresh air.

Djoko initially said the joint ministerial decree could always be reviewed and amended, and on Tuesday he supported calls for a law on religious harmony to replace the decree.

Even more welcome was the decision reached on Tuesday by the House of Representatives and the government to immediately start drafting a law on religious harmony.

Although the House remains divided over whether the law should use the controversial joint ministerial decree as its starting point, the willingness to address the problem and try to overcome it is laudable.

We emphatically support efforts by both the government and the legislature to formulate a law that would guarantee religious harmony.

The issue desperately deserves attention, because the joint ministerial decree has been found by many to be fundamentally flawed and wholly unable to provide a strong foundation for pluralism in the country.

It is not our intention to try and influence or interfere with the work of the government and the House.

But we think it is important for us to remind them that to uphold the Constitution, the laws that protect the rights of religious minorities and provide a secure environment for them must be honored.

The new law must go further than the current ones to protect the religious rights of all members of Indonesia’s ever-changing society.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Standing up for others

It is inspiring to see those who stand up for others.

Standing up for others is the right thing to do, every human goes through a period of invincibility to vulnerability, if we don't stand up for those who are vulnerable, then who will stand up for us when we are vulnerable?

Father Moon emphasizes the idea, "Living for the sake of others" indeed there is a lot of wisdom in it as Martin Niemoller also reflects it in his eternal poem, "first they came for the Jews, I wasn't a Jew, so I did not say a thing, then they came for Communists, I didn't care, I wasn't a communist, then he concludes, then they came for me and it shattered me to know that there was no one left to speak up for me."

The idea of alms, charity, taking care of the elderly, weak, sick and the children is a common theme in every religious tradition. It is indeed an insurance for every one's well being. I cannot be at peace when others around me aren't, and hence it behooves me to take care of the ones who need assistance.

I have stood up for Jews, Catholics, Ahmadiyyas, Immigrants, Hindus, Falun Dafa, Zoroastrians, Muslims, Native Americans, Christians, Baha'i, Wicca, Sikh and other identities of humanity. It is the right thing to do.
Please note that I am no more of a volunteer than you are, if I have not spoken out against one of your dear causes, it is simply because not being aware and having only 24 hours in a day. If you would like to share it with me, please do so in the comments section.

Standing up for Jews, Gays, Catholics
http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2010/07/standing-up-for-jews-gays-and-mexicans.html

Standing up for Mexicans
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrjU0KULv-Y

Standing up for Ahmadiyyas
http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2010/09/appeal-to-indonesia-about-ahmadi.html

Standing up for the Unificationists
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/03/freedom-of-religion-in-japan.html

Standing up with the Native Americans
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/02/petition-for-native-american-heritage.html

Standing up for the Falun Dafa
http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2006/3/19/70952.html

Standing up for Christians In Indonesia, India and Pakistan
http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/12/31/letters-an-appeal-indonesian-muslims.html

Standing up for Hindus
List to be added: Moscow, Trinidad, California, Lisbon, Bangladesh, Pakistan,
http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/08/festivities-soured-by-race.html

Standing up against Apostasy
1) Malaysia, 2) Afghanistan
http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/05/malaysian-apostasy-case.html

Standing up for Burmese Buddhists
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2007/10/stand-with-burmese-people.html

On Saturday, September 4, 2010 in Houston at the interfaith symposium at the Ahmadiyya Mosque, I quoted Father Moon's drive, "Living for the sake of others" and expanded on it. We don't have to do it for God, or even claim it to be the noble" thing to do. We have to do it, because it is the right thing to do. That is also the wisdom from Bhagvad Gita. Keep doing the work and let the creator decide which way it goes, but don't look for the fruit, your job is to just do it.

Twice in my life I have seen Mahatma Gandhi in my dream, the first time was when I was in College around 1971, when Mahatma Gandhi, the vice-chancellor of Bangalore University Sri V. Narsimaiah and I were having a dinner together and Mahatma puts his hands on my shoulders and says, "tujhe bahut kaam karna hai beta", you have a lot of work to do son, and again around 2003, he appears in my dreams and with the same affectionate hand (as my Dad's), he pats on my back, "you have to do it"... the only thing I consistently get from this message was the work of Pluralism, help me God, I am committed to do.

Today, I received a note from John Halsey, Dallas ACLC (American Clergy leadership conference) how we would not let go of a Minister's negative remarks towards Muslims. Then the thought of putting together some the of work I have done came to my mind, and here it is, by the next week, I will have most of the work listed. Thank you John.

I am pleased to be a part of Dallas Peace Center and it feels like home to me, every one around is about justice and peace and that is such a hope giving environment to witness.

# # #

To be updated, God has blessed me to be a part of many a societies and I am thankful for the same. I urge you to knock off one hour's TV or gossip and spend that time standing up for others, the least you can do is to let them know that you are with them and that they are not alone.

Standing up for Sikhs
1) France 2) Afghanistan -

Standing up for Muslim Women's rights
1) Burqa 2) Adultery

Standing up for Zoroastrians
Farohar Symbol

Standing up for Buddhists
Destruction of Biman Statues

Standing up for Muslims
Destruction of Babri Mosque

Standing up for Atheists
through my comments and articles

Standing up against Holocaust denial
Letters to Dallas Morning News to initiating and establishing "Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides" event in 2007.

Standing up for Wicca
Rights to bury in Arlington Cemetery

Standing up for Palestinians
Gaza Rally, prayers for peace, reflections on violations

Standing for Baha'i

Standing up for African Americans

Standing up for Dalit's in India
Thanks to my Father and Mother for breaking away from the traditional practices of apartheid, growing up as kids, we did something that was un-heard of, the Dalits and us would eat off our plates, and drink tea off our glasses, they would come in to our home... and many had called my Dad for stopping it. I shall write that some time.

Standing up for Bosnians
I vividly recall the callous attitude of a Russian Journalist and Phil Donahue late night - women were raped and children were shot in head...and they said something like "oh they are Muslims"... I had a auto fax from my Mac at that time, and I sent several faxes to them, the next nigh, they did not show that inhuman attitude. That was the last time I watched Phil Donahue, the man I had respected, but lost respect for him.

You are welcome to leave your comments at: Comments

Quraan Burning Articles

It is so good to see people standing up for each other, in this Blog,I will add the links to such upright citizens.

Here is an article from Canada, sent by our interfaith friends:

HI Mike,
Thought you might be interested to see a copy of what was sent to the Edmonton Journal recently:::

Len Gierach
Edmonton Interfaith Centre

Build bridges beyond discourse instead of burning books

Edmonton Journal September 9, 2010

News sources both traditional and modern are full of reports concerning a pastor from Florida who has called for a public burning of the Qu'ran on Sept. 11.

This suggestion, along with the xenophobic fear and hatred of Muslims evidenced by the almost hysterical opposition to the mosque planned near Ground Zero in New York, are frightening beyond belief.

They evidence a meta-narrative of fear and stereotyping that is always disturbing, especially in a western democracy that is built on values of equality and respect for all.

Book burning has a long tradition harking back to the Spanish Inquisition, Nazi Germany and the worst Stalinist excesses.

It should play no role in the discourse of 21st century Canada or America.

These recent stories also evidence a dangerous confusion equating terrorist and Muslim. This leads to a mindless fear and stereotyping of well-meaning people from across the globe.

The Muslim citizens of the United States and Canada have an important role to play in the future of both countries. In Alberta they have also played and will continue to play a formative role in the history of our province.

The Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action calls on people from across the religious spectrum to reject the meta-narrative of fear and hatred.

Instead, it is essential that we take the time learn about our neighbours so that together we can build a stronger community where diversity is respected.

The interfaith centre includes members from 14 different faiths, and it is our goal to build bridges of understanding and co-operation.

Rabbi David A. Kunin, Beth Shalom Synagogue, president, Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action
# # #

Other Links: What would Muslims do about it?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/muslims-proact-against-qu_b_705571.html

Appeal to Quraan Burning -
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/09/quraan-burning-appeal-to-muslims.html

Standing up for others:
http://mikeghouse.net/Standing.up.for.others.asp

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Qur’aan Burning, an appeal to Muslims

Imam Zia Sheikh & Mike Ghouse
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/09/quraan-burning-appeal-to-muslims.html

We appeal to Muslims around the world to consider the model of peace Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had offered; pray for the well being of any one who wants to burn the Qur’aan.

That is what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did when the miscreants pelted rocks at him, instead of getting even with them, he asked his associates to join him and pray for their well being. Even Angel Gabriel offered help to punish them, the prophet said no to him as well and instead, asked them to join him in praying for the goodwill of those who hurt him. The Prophet believed that there is goodness in every human soul and we have to appeal to it. He chose the non-violent way of goodwill nurturing.

Most Muslims will follow the beautiful example of the prophet, just as most Christians would follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and not burn the Quraan. Most people know that Qur’aan shares the stories of about 25 prophets including Adam, Abraham, Solomon, David, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and most importantly Jesus Christ. There is a full chapter on Mary, the mother of Jesus.

There will be fringe elements among Muslims who will mirror the fringe elements among others including the ones acting in the name of Christianity or other religion.

What is God going to do about it if someone burns the Quran?

God is not going to do a thing, he has blessed us with free will and encourages and guides us to do good and holds us responsible when we fail. (Quran 14:4)

Quraan is a book of guidance for those who chose to be guided. Indeed, Qur'aan starts with the word "God of Universe" Al-Fatiha (The Opening) 1:2 “All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds” and ends with addressing humanity as a whole again, An-Nas (The Mankind) 114:1 SAY: "I seek refuge with the Sustainer of men.”

God knows every thing we do, and no one will go scot free, every one of us has to account to ourselves in our solitude and again on the day of reckoning.

We urge Muslim to place their trust in God, Quraan, 14:12 “and how could we not place our trust in God, seeing that it is he who has shown us the path which we are to follow? Hence, we shall certainly bear with patience whatever hurt you may do us: for, all who have trust [in His existence] must place their trust in God."

Let them choose to be misguided if they so choose, however, we request them to read the right translations and understand the verses in their right context. We will be happy to sit with them and clarify any thing they may have possibly misunderstood.

Appeal

Our reaction could entrench bigotry or help people respond kindly to kindness, we appeal Muslims to choose the peace model of the Prophet.

Please be aware that there are at least two deliberate mistranslations of Quraan while there are 18 that are true translations. One of the translations was done by the Monastery of Abbey in 1142 to appease the Kings who used Christianity for their own political ends and the other one was done by a Muslim in 1922 to possibly prejudice Muslims against Christians and Jews for the very same reasons. The simple test for the rightful translations is that God loves his creation and simply cannot express anything but love, if we read the text otherwise, we have to read several passages to get it right, as Karen Armstrong writes, keep reading until you get it right.

What does it take to build orderly societies? What does it take for you, me and others to feel safe and live in peace? We have to remove the fears and bring peace to every citizen.

Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware."

It is our duty to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. As individuals or nations, we cannot be safe if the people/nations around us aren’t, it is in our interest to seek peace for all of us.

Together, we have a monumental task to repair the World, and we will do our part in working towards a World of co-existence. We are committed, and now help us God. Amen.

Muslims coming together for common good

We are in the process of getting endorsements from different Muslim communities before going online at http://www.worldmuslimcongress.com/

This appeal is authored by Imam Zia ul-Haque Sheikh and Mike Ghouse. If you wish to have them speak at your school, office or Church, please call them.

Imam Zia Shaikh is the resident scholar of the Islamic Center of Irving, Texas and a Hafiz-e- Quraan and has extensive talks on Quraan at www.imamzia.com

Mike Ghouse is a speaker on Islam and Pluralism offering pluralistic solutions to the media and the public on the issues of the day, his work is expressed in 22 blogs and 3 websites listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sean Hannity website reads thus...

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Hannity Insiders Audio
Listen to the show:
http://www.hannity.com/member/stream-link?stream=shows/SEANHANNITYWIN20100907&site=hannity&type=win_show WMA Streaming Audio
Download MP3s: *
http://www.premiereinteractive.com/cgi-bin/members.cgi?stream=2010/09/Sean Hannity - Sep 07 2010 - Hour 1.mp3&site=hannity&type=download&clips=1
Hour 1
Is Obama becoming unhinged?
http://www.premiereinteractive.com/cgi-bin/members.cgi?stream=2010/09/Sean Hannity - Sep 07 2010 - Hour 2.mp3&site=hannity&type=download&clips=1
Hour 2
Michael Barone, Scott Rasmussen and John Zogby
http://www.premiereinteractive.com/cgi-bin/members.cgi?stream=2010/09/Sean Hannity - Sep 07 2010 - Hour 3.mp3&site=hannity&type=download&clips=1
Hour 3
Jay Sekulow and Michael Ghouse
* Right-click the link and select Save As

http://www.hannity.com/show/2010/09/07

Is Obama Becoming Unhinged?
A freshly charged Sean Hannity took the national airwaves after a restful holiday weekend – ready for the next 56 days before Election Day. Sean started the show by commenting on President Obama's remarks at a Labor Day rally in Wisconsin. Obama lashed out at Republicans, accusing them of being unwilling to cooperate with his socialist agenda. "When it comes to just about everything we've done to strengthen our middle class, to rebuild our economy, almost every Republican in Congress says no. Even on things we usually agree on, they say no. If I said the sky was blue, they say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they'd say no," Obama said at the rally. "The president is really becoming unhinged," Sean said incredulously. "Republicans are saying 'no' to your debt, 'no' to your reckless deficits, 'no' to health care, 'no to cap and tax and 'no' to yet another proposed failed stimulus plan. This president simply cannot take any criticism!" said Sean.

Political Tsunami For Democrats
Michael Barone, senior Political Analyst for the Washington Examiner and pollster John Zogby spoke with Sean in the show's second hour about the possibility of Republicans regaining control of the House. Barone and Zogby both felt that it's entirely possible for Republicans to gain the necessary number of seats to win the majority in the House. "Sean I'm feeling kinda bad in the pit of my stomach for a lot of Democratic members of Congress who I've gotten to know over the years...because they're gonna lose," Barone commented. Zogby told Sean that "this is the greatest advantage we've seen for Republicans since I've been doing this. The Democratic enthusiasm just isn't there right now. The only negative news I see for Republicans is that most people are simply voting against Democrats rather than voting for Republicans."

Terry Jones: "Burn A Koran Day"
Terry Jones, a controversial Florida preacher, started a firestorm of debate on Facebook when he called for people around the world to set fire to copies of the Koran. General Patraeus warned that the images of burning the Koran could endanger the lives of U.S. troops. Sean invited Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice and Michael Ghouse to the program to discuss the issue. "This will do nothing," Michael Ghouse said, "the right thing to do is pray for their good will." Sekulow concurred, adding, "This is an unnecessary act of provocation. This, in my view, is a very bad publicity stunt."

Show Guests:

Jay Sekulow

http://www.hannity.com/guest/sekulow-jay/10451

Jay Alan Sekulow (born June 10, 1956 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American attorney and radio talkshow host. He currently serves as Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative religious organization founded by evangelist Pat Robertson to oppose the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as serving as Chief Counsel of the European Centre for Law and Justice.

John Zogby

http://www.hannity.com/guest/zogby-john/9914

John Zogby (born 1948) is an American political pollster and first senior fellow at The Catholic University of America's Life Cycle Institute. He is the founder, president and CEO of Zogby International, a polling firm known for both phone polling and interactive, Internet-based polling.

Mike Ghouse

http://www.hannity.com/guest/ghouse-mike/10804

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Justice, Islam, India and Civil Societies. He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His work is reflected at 3 websites & 22 Blogs listed at mikeghouse.net

Related Articles:

As economy struggles, confidence in Obama wanes

CHICAGO (CBS): If there is any place President Obama is going to get the benefit of the doubt, it's here in his hometown. Yet public opinion polls show that even here, confidence has slipped. Though they're a bit hesitant to talk about it. When one resident was asked how Mr. Obama was doing, the answer was not very convincing. "Don't ask me that question." On Monday the president was just 90 miles away in Milwaukee, unveiling yet another $50 billion infrastructure improvement package . That's in addition to what's already underway in Chicago and around the nation. "Our infrastructure's pathetic; especially the railroads," said Chicagoan Paul Keck, adding the money would be well spent to improve things like roads, bridges and railways. Tonight CBS 2 spoke with people power shopping the Magnificent Mile, relaxing in Bucktown and stocking up at a South Side supermarket. "You have to consider where we were," Chicagoan... more >