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

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Female Genital Mutilation among Bohra Muslims - A report

 

I applaud the courage of Mr. Danish Ahmed for reporting this issue head on in his magazine Indian Muslim Observer. There is a lot that goes on in our societies, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and Sikh or otherwise, in this instance a large number of Bohra Muslim Women are being genitally mutilated in secrecy, as it is an illegal practice within several cultures.

Even if one woman, Muslim or otherwise is deprived of her God given pleasures of life, it must be stopped. Standing up against oppression is one big aspect of being a Muslim.
Injustice to anyone and particularly women will eat away the morality of the society from within. Oppression cannot go on for long. Every religion has been a medium to restore righteousness in the society, the guidance is universal including Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) who said, the least thing you can do against injustice is to speak up. Speaking up is the right thing to do.

Tasleem deserves the applauding, even though she has endured pain and suffering, she has decided to put an end to this. We need to join her efforts in putting an end to this misery. Certainly, a few men will ridicule it, but she will have her rewards from Allah and the Prophet for the doing the right thing, bringing justice to generations of women. May God bless her.

Warning: The pictures too graphic, especially the one with raw blade. Most of the pictures are from Africa to illustrate the point and perhaps due to the limited availability of such practices.

This is a horrendous practice that all of us must stop. I can hear a few Muslims, just a handful of Muslims in each Muslim gathering asking this to the Danish Ahmed.

1.
Why did he not talk with the community first?
2.
Why did he have to feed the right wingers with more to belittle Muslims?
3. Is there an empirical data to claim 90% of Bohra community practices this?

It is quite possible that His Highness Syedna Burhanuddin, the spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslims may not be aware of this practice happening right under his nose, just as CIA did not see Mubarak's exit or the seedlings for the protests in the Middle East, ISI and Pakistani Military did not know Osama Bin Laden was hiding right in their own backyard and Mossad has been wrong about Iran and other pronouncements.

Obviously the issue is simmering for a long time, but no one may have dared the establishment, and even possible that the protests were put down. As Muslims we need to give full support to this movement that is what makes us Muslims; to speak up and do everything possible to bring justice to every human in the society.

If we don’t fulfill our responsibility, the suffering will go on further, but it will affect us all of us. This is not a Bohra issue, nor the Muslim issue; it is the human rights issue. It’s not them, it is us, we are all in this together to create a better society for each one of us and it reflects and affects us all.

I do hope the Syedna will make a quick call to end this practice, if he has not already done. Please do the least thing you can do – sign the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/hh-dr-syedna-ban-female-circumcision-ladkiyon-par-khatna


By the way, the male circumcision among Jews and Muslims is not the same, it has a history of over 3000 years and it is not done secretly to be evil and further more it is professionally done to ensure the safety of the circumcised.  The following article was cited in cancelling the bill to ban circumcision in San Francisco and Santa Monica.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/circumcision-satire_b_872270.html

Mike Ghouse
Muslims together committed to cohesive and just societies
www.IslamTogetherFoundation.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pluralists Thanksgiving Celebrations

I am pleased to share the following articles about thanksgiving and it’s significance in our lives. I am committed to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, that is my passion and I speak about it.
Dallas Morning News: Why should we be thankful?

It is a day to pull ourselves together and tie up the loose ends of life. Through the year we receive a lot of good from others in the form of words and actions, and many a times it is a one way transaction and remains incomplete.
Those who achieve balance in life are the happiest people. Indeed, our happiness is directly dependent on fulfillment of our desires; lesser fulfillment yields greater discontentment. So, the enlightened Buddha says, fewer the desires, lesser the sorrows!
A full narrative is at:
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/11/texas-faith-why-should-we-be-thankful.html




2. Huffington Post – A Pluralist’s Thanksgiving.
The article weaves through several religions touching the heart and soul of each one. It's just not you, ask Bill Gates, whom God has blessed, he would say not enough! Ask the Homeless; the answer is still the same, not enough. Who has enough then? Then read the incredible story of gratitude. Appaiah turned around and asked me instead “Isn’t there so much to thank the lord?” I was rendered speechless. Here is a man with nothing to hope for, yet he is not complaining, that is gratitude!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse . If not published on Thursday, go to: http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2011/11/essence-of-thanksgiving.html



Americans Together building a cohesive America


Our Mission is to build a cohesive America, where no American has to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the other. As a society, it is our responsibility to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate, prejudice and stereotyping are some of the many sources of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our duty to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it and nurturing goodwill. We need your input.

http://americatogetherfoundation.blogspot.com/2011/11/americans-together-documentary_11.html



Happy thanksgiving
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the media and the public. He is a speaker thinker and a writer on the topics of pluralism, cohesive societies, Politics, Islam, interfaith, India and Peace. Over a thousand articles have been published on the topics and two of his books are poised to be released on Pluralism and Islam. Mike's work is fully indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and you can find all of his current articles at www.TheGhousediary.com

ADDITIONAL READING, IF YOU HAVE THE TIME


KENTUCKY STATE SENATOR WILLIAMS REMARKS OFFENDS HINDUS
It is not only a Hindu issue; it is indeed an American issue. The speaking out shouldn't be just from Hindus, but Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Pagans, Wiccans, Zoroastrians and others as well. Why should anyone stand up for you, if you are not willing to do the same for others? No one has a right to belittle other's faiths.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/senator-williams-offend-hindus_b_1075392.html

SIKHS AND MUSLIMS CAN COME TOGETHER FOR GURPURAB The ill-will between Sikhs and Muslims has run deep for over 350 years based on mistranslation of a verse from Quraan by Emperors sycophants, and carried further by the leaders of the Sikh community without any one making an effort to correct the translation and remove the misunderstanding. I was blessed to have that opportunity to interact with Dr. Aulakh Singh in Melbourne, Australia and hope, the ill-will mitigates. The good news is that, most of the Sikh youth are not familiar with it and I am glad they are not. Finding the truth is one’s own responsibility. Full story at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/sikhs-and-muslims-on-542n_b_1087327.html
ESSENCE OF EID-AL-ADHA: A MUSLIM FESTIVAL OF SACRIFICE
The following article, "Essence of Eid-al-Adha" was written for non-Muslims as well as Muslims, so they can relate with the essence of our celebrations. Unless we connect and relate, myths continue to flourish about us. There is a slight humor in the dialogue between Prophet Abraham and God with the intent of understanding what love and sacrifice mean in a relationship. A few Muslims may not see it, but Insha Allah it will go a long way in building bridges. I do hope the last item about appreciating men and women in the uniform goes a long way in building relationship.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/essence-of-eidaladha-a-mu_b_1075393.html

Monday, November 21, 2011

Herman Cain: Muslim Doctors Scare Me

—By Tim Murphy

| Mon Nov. 21, 2011 9:14 AM PST

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/11/herman-cain-muslim-doctors-scare-me?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Motherjones%2Fmojoblog+%28MotherJones.com+%7C+MoJoBlog%29

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain has a Muslim problem. Cain has already publicly suggested that Muslims are not guaranteed First Amendment rights and that he would not hire any observant Muslims in his hypothetical administration. His strategy, as with most of his other problems, has been to deny having said any of the things he has said, and then, when pressed, to insist that he's answered the question already, end of story, period. But Cain appears to have shot himself in the foot once again. Chris Moody attended Cain's event at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, a Biblical amusement park, and reports that Cain started his speech off with a curious anecdote:

He did have a slight worry at one point during the chemotherapy process when he discovered that one of the surgeon's name was "Dr. Abdallah."

"I said to his physician assistant, I said, 'That sounds foreign--not that I had anything against foreign doctors--but it sounded too foreign," Cain tells the audience. "She said, 'He's from Lebanon.' Oh, Lebanon! My mind immediately started thinking, wait a minute, maybe his religious persuasion is different than mine! She could see the look on my face and she said, 'Don't worry, Mr. Cain, he's a Christian from Lebanon.'"

"Hallelujah!" Cain says. "Thank God!"

This isn't the first time Cain has discussed his fears of Dr. Abdallah. It was a stripped-down version of this same anecdote, told during an interview with CBN's David Brody, that first sparked interest in Cain's anti-Muslim views in February. That Cain's still beating the drum seven months later tells you a good deal about the seriousness and discipline of his campaign; it also says a lot about Herman Cain. (My colleague Adam Serwer, meanwhile, can fill you in on why, if you're looking for villiains in the Lebanese Civil War, there's plenty of blame to go around.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Celebrating Guru Nanak in Rockville Maryland

Celebrating Guru Nanak in Rockville Maryland


The
large Sikh men with long white mustard beards pounded the drums.  Sikh men with red, blue, and even orange colored turbans sat cross-legged in all corners of the sanctuary.  Women dressed in bold blue, green, and purple Punjabi suits sat consumed in prayer.  As I sat on the red carpet among the 300-400 guests in the audience with my hair covered in an orange patka (head covering) and my feet crossed I could not help but realize the significance of this moment as the Sikh prayers seemed to float towards heaven and consumed my body and soul.  I had to constantly remind myself that I was not in a Sikh temple in a village in the Indian Punjab but in Rockville, Maryland.


Last Sunday November 13th, I had the privilege of attending the most important Sikh holiday honoring Guru Nanak- the revered founder of Sikhism.  My mentor Ambassador Akbar Ahmed whom the BBC calls “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam” was invited by the Sikh community to give the keynote address.  This was the first time that a Muslim had ever been invited to speak at this very large Sikh temple.  Ambassador Ahmed spoke about religious pluralism and tolerance and the need for Muslims and Sikhs to live at peace.  The Ambassador averred that through Guru Nanak’s life we “learn how he promoted the dialogue between the two great religions of India; Hinduism and Islam which added to the beauty and birth of Sikhism.”  Ahmed narrated the message of Guru Nanak during his visit to Baghdad and Mecca `and his exchange with Muslim and Sufi holy men in the 16th century. He quoted one of his favorite sayings of Guru Nanak: “When I give myself to thee O, Lord, the whole world is mine.” Ahmed spoke of the great Sufi Islamic saint Mian Mir, who in an act of religious pluralism was invited by Guru Arjan to lay the foundation stone at the Golden Temple, the Mecca of Sikhism.  Ahmed conveyed how Guru Nanak and Mian Mir taught us the importance of remembering the “unity of God” and to love all of humanity.

Ahmed reminded us about the pain of partition when in 1947 India and Pakistan separated.  He said it felt like “a knife had gone through the heart of all of us… and separated us.”  He urged that the healing process must begin.  When Ambassador Ahmed finished Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said “my heart was pounding with the power of his words” and that Ambassador Ahmed’s message was very important for the entire south Asian community.  Later Manjula Kumar, a prominent Indian and a director at the Smithsonian institute, wrote that Ahmed was “creating history... I have never had such a wonderful experience at any Gurdwara.” 
In addition to Dr. Singh we met White House representative Tuyet G. Duong.  She spoke about the Obama administration’s desire to strengthen the relationship between the White House and the Sikh community.  She told us about the similarities she found in her Buddhist faith to Sikhism.  We also met Dr. Nisar Chaudhury, the President of the Pakistan American league , who advocates people to people contact among Indians and Pakistanis to foster harmony in the subcontinent and has organized trips of Pakistani physicians to visit India recently,   was visiting his first Gurdwara (a Gurdwara is a place of worship for Sikhs) and was thrilled.  We were also introduced to an inspiring Sikh, Sardar Harcharan Singh Brar who is head of the Mian Mir foundation in Amritsar and his organization is working to bring together relatives separated during the tragedy of the partition and has brought together 600 people together such families.  Mian Mir was a Sufi Muslim and this man is a Sikh.  This is the equivalent of an Israeli Jew leading a foundation whose namesake is a Palestinian Muslim. 
 
Once the speeches ended I found myself sitting in the basement cross-legged on the floor with the other guests.  As I used my right hand to mix delicious warm green curry with white rice I leaned far forward.  This was an attempt to avoid spilling the curry on my gray and favorite pair of nice pants.  I was surrounded by the kindest Sikh men and women; young and old and all ages in between.  As I continued to enjoy the delicious Punjabi cuisine young boys dressed in traditional Sikh garb carrying the symbolic Sikh daggers offered me napkins and more food.

The hospitality and warm environment in the Sikh temple transported me back to my time in India when I enjoyed delicious dinners with my Hindu host family on the floor of our Kolkata home.  During my time in Kolkata I felt the tension between the Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims.  The area I resided in Kolkata was heavily Muslim and was known to many as “Little Pakistan.”  I was pained when I heard Hindus and Sikhs refer to the area as “Toilet Avenue.”  You could feel the division when older Hindu and Sikh friends talked to me about Muslims and spoke negatively and fearfully of our neighbors.  The history and religious differences are very alive for my Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh friends in India.  These experiences in India stayed with me as I began attending college in America.

As an American University college student and undergraduate senator I represent roughly 6,000 students in the American University student government.  My university is a unique place where my constituency comprises of students of all backgrounds and faiths.  I live in a community where I can have Zionist Jewish friends while also having Muslim Palestinian friends.  However, to witness such a degree and commitment to religious pluralism as was shown at the Sikh temple was very moving.  Interfaith dialogue is a challenging enterprise at this time of widespread Islamophobia, prejudice, and a media that often increases misunderstanding between people. 

As a student committed to humanism, I am working outside of my university to bring the Jewish and Muslim communities of Washington together.  At times I do worry about the misunderstanding and fear some Americans hold towards one another.  This is precisely why the event on Sunday was so significant.  I left the event feeling confident that if Muslims and Sikhs can be friends that Muslims and Jews can be too.

The event at the Sikh temple exemplified the genius of Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington, the American founding fathers.  The event showed American religious pluralism in live action.  As a Jewish American college student from Bethesda, Maryland it was an unusual situation to be in a Sikh Gurdwara with a Pakistani Muslim, who was the former Ambassador from Pakistan to the United Kingdom.  In how many countries can a Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, and Sikh pray and eat peacefully together?  How many countries in the world have a Sikh community that is so committed to bringing different people together that they would invite a Pakistani Muslim to speak on their most religious holiday?  The event on Sunday was the equivalent for Jews of inviting a Palestinian Muslim to speak at a synagogue on a day honoring Moses.  The founding fathers would have been pleased to see that their dream of a religiously pluralistic America is still of the utmost importance in their own country today.


DYLAN KAPLAN is currently studying at American University and is a senator representing the undergraduate student body.  Dylan is also a Researcher with Ambassador Akbar Ahmed and is active in interfaith dialogue. 

Another article:


Sikhs and Muslims Can Come Together for Guru Nanak's Birthday
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2011/11/sikhs-and-muslims-need-to-put-behind.html


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Sikhs and Muslims need to put behind an old wound on Gurpurab

Courtesy of Huffington Post:Sikhs and Muslims Can Come Together for Guru Nanak's Birthday
It’s the 542nd birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism. Let’s pray this Gurpurab nurture goodwill and remove ill-will between Muslims and Sikhs.
Guru Nanakji’s birthday has a special significance to me, indeed, the religion we called Sikhism, started out as an interfaith movement, where he primarily brought people from different religions together and taught common sense goodness; serving humanity and caring for the neighbors.

I selected this picture, as my Mother's great uncle looked just like him with the same Turban and we called him Sikh Nana. On this auspicious day of Guru Nanak Devji's birthday, on behalf of World Muslim Congress and the foundation for Pluralism, we wish peace and blessing to the world.


Guru Nanak Jayanthi is the birth celebration of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak, and one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism.

The festivities in the Sikh religion revolve around the anniversaries of the 10 Sikh Gurus. These Gurus were responsible for shaping the beliefs of the Sikhs. Their birthdays, known as Gurpurabs, are occasions for celebration and prayer among the Sikhs.

The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs is a stories and guidance in poetry composed by Hindu and Muslim spiritual teachers. Indeed, the land for the Golden Temple was a grant by King Akbar and the first brick for the Golden Temple was laid out by a Muslim fakir.


Happy Gurpurab to all the Sikhs and to everyone who is a well-wisher of the ideals of Sikhism….
I hope on this auspicious occasion of Gurpurab, the Muslims and Sikhs make a genuine effort to pay tribute to the spirit of Guru Nanak Devji and remove the misunderstandings that erupted from a wrong translation of Quraan that happened 350 years ago and has rightfully etched in the psyche of Sikhs.

In an article in Huffington post about Kentucky Senator David William’s bigotry I wrote, “No one has a right to belittle other's faiths. If Senator Williams has a problem let it be his problem and one should malign Christianity for his bigotry.” Likewise, King Aurangzeb’s bigotry should not be slapped on Muslims. I have nothing to do with it, nor does any Muslim anything to do with him.

Sadly there was a lot of bloodshed during the partition of India that has deepened the ill-will among a few Muslims and a few Sikhs. It is time to forgive for our own sake, as it will release the tension and apprehension within us and free us to deal with each other as free individuals.

May the Noor (divine light) of Guru Nanankji brighten the world. Amen! Sikhism was one of the first formal religions that began as a reconciliatory goodwill nurturing faith and let’s give the full value to it.
MUSLIMS AND SIKHS NEED TO WORK ON RECONCILING THE ILL-WILL.


I just want to share a great misunderstanding that occurred in the 17th century and has lasted till this day. I was a speaker on “reading the scriptures” at the Parliament of world’s religions in Melbourne, Australia.


During the conference, one of the Sikh scholars was presenting a verse from Quraan that has been difficult for Sikhs for over three hundred fifty years. When Dr. Avtar Dhaliwal started his presentation with the obviously wrong translation of a verse from Quraan, a fellow Muslim was outraged and walked out and was looking at me for a response. Later, I invited him back into the hall and responded to the mistranslation during my presentation and not during Dr. Dhaliwal’s presentation. That is a whole another story but for now, I will share the email that followed the conversation.


Continued at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/sikhs-and-muslims-on-542n_b_1087327.html
 
THE MISUNDERSTANDING:

I have recieved several comments on facebook from the Sikh youth, it appears that the new generaion is not even aware of this conflict, where as it has been carried on in the hearts and minds of several. I am glad the senior did not burden and biased the youth with their baggage.

A verse from Quraan was mis-interpreted by the Mogul King’s sycophants, please remember regardless of religions, almost all kings had sycophants who left no word in praising, exalting and appeasing the kings… those idiot Kings (Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or Christians) doled out more money to the biggest of the lickers. In this case King Aurangzeb had animosity towards Guru Gobind Singh and his sycophants justified that by mistranslating Qur’anic verses like the following one – Dr. Dhaliwal had refers to


Surah Al-Hijr Sura 15:26-30 "Verily We created man of potter's clay of black mud altered, (26) And the jinn did We create aforetime of essential fire. (27) And (remember) when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am creating a mortal out of potter's clay of black mud altered, (28) So, when I have made him and have breathed into him of My Spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him. (29) So the angels fell prostrate, all of them together (30) "

The above was misinterpreted in Sikh literature to read as Sikhs were altered and were like black Potter's clay and the Sikhs who wanted to flare up the issue wrote and exaggerated it, and the Sikh Animosity towards Muslims has run deep for 350 years, and some of the cruelty by the kings at that time was blamed on Quraan. The first question the Sikhs failed to ask (at that time was), Sikhism was not there when Islam came into being and Sikhism was not referred to in Quraan.

The more appropriate translation is referred to in the article and each verse is written up.

# # #
Mike Ghouse is committed to build a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His work is indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Observations of a Jew Who Converted to Islam by Jeff Greenberg

Amazing article!

Jeremy, I am pleased to welcome you to your temporary abode; Islam. Enjoy the experience of being a Muslim and wish you the best on your journey to Buddhism. You have the freedom to be a Muslim and freedom to walk away from it. Islam guarantees that, and as a Muslim I will stand with you. There are fanatics among us who are intolerant, but is there a religious group out there who does not have them boys!


" ... Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error ..." [Qur’aan 2:256]

This is Islam's unambiguous affirmation of freedom of faith, which also applies to changing of faith.


By the way, the best available Quran Translation is by a Jewish Man, who converted to Islam with the name Muhammad Asad, and there are many Jews who have converted here in America, and I hope you can add your experience to enrich Americans in building a cohesive America.

I write at Huffington Post as well on pluralism, Islam, cohesive America, Peace and Justice. Please look up for a Muslim Pluralist thanksgiving next week. I am in Louisville this weekend and hope to reach you.
http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/11/observations-of-jew-who-converted-to.html
Mike Ghouse
Committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions.
www.MikeGhouse.net
# # #

The Observations of a Jew Who Converted to Islam by Jeff Greenberg.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-greenberg/jew-converted-to-islam_b_1097776.html

Have you ever wondered exactly what it is to be an American Muslim? Are they human? How exactly to do they plan on killing us all and turning the United States into a Muslim nation ruled by a galactic caliphate? And how have they learned to pretend to enjoy living here in the United States even though we all know they consider this country to be the great Satan?

Hello. My name is Jeremy Greenberg, and I am here to help you better understand the truth about American Muslims. Although my opening questions are clearly sarcastic, I, like many Americans was largely ignorant about what it's like to be Muslim in America. That is, until last March when this Jew walked into a mosque in Louisville, Kentucky, a city in which I was performing for the week, and converted to Islam. I am now alternatively known as Assad Ibrahim, or "Lion of Abraham."

Why did I convert? Simple. I wanted to better understand the life of Muslims in America, and what their growing presence means for the rest of us. I didn't trust how politicians and the media were playing the issue, and I didn't want any second-hand information. The only way I truly felt I could know American Muslims was to become one.

Oddly enough, converting to Islam is one of the most Jewish things I've ever done. We clearly have an Islamophobia problem in this country. Mosques across this nation are repeatedly being vandalized, and women wearing traditional Muslim clothing are being thrown off of airplanes for no good reason. The craziest part is that most of us don't care. But Jews should care a lot! The last time a western nation was complicit in the demonization of an entire group of people was during the Nazi regime in Germany. Every person who values freedom and tolerance should be doing their best to make sure Muslims are not unfairly demonized. I know some of my Jewish brethren will see my conversion as traitorous. But the truth is, my becoming a Muslim so as to better understand and explain them to those who will listen is actually a mitzvah, or blessing. I'm no more of a traitor than Oskar Schindler. And if your immediate feeling upon learning that I became a Muslim is repulsion, then you are for whom I'm writing this the most.

Because I travel across the country performing stand-up comedy, I was afforded the opportunity to pray in many different mosques. I knelt in rich Pakistani mosques as ornate as anything the pontiff would poke his head out of, as well as humble converted track homes in which African and Arab cab drivers would pop in and pray to Allah that the day would be blessed with fares enough to feed their families. I didn't agree with everything I saw. But much of what I witnessed reassured my hypothesis that Muslim-Americans are here for the same reason we are: to raise their families in peace, to get rich, to forget the past, start punk bands, learn to skateboard, and most importantly, to overeat. Allow me to share some of what I saw:

First, let's talk about prayer. Very few Muslims actually pray five times per day outside of the month of Ramadan. They're supposed to, but most just aren't that extreme. They know they should, just the way Christians know they should go to church every Sunday. Maybe in other countries there is a higher percentage of people praying five times per day. But in America Muslims pray far less, I suspect because they actually have real hope. And here's something that's interesting: Muhammad originally thought Muslims should pray 50 times per day, but in a dream Moses convinced him that 5 daily prayers was sufficient. I believe Moses' exact quote was, "50, why kill yourself, Muhammad? 5. 5 is plenty. Who has what to pray 50 times per day?"

Secondly, Muslims are as diverse as any group. I attended the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Long Beach, California. It was a three day event meant to foster discussion about what it is to be Muslim in America. Some of the speakers were American converts, some were raised Muslim, others were straight out of the Middle East with heavy accents. Some dressed in western clothes, and others sported the thobe, which is the traditional white uni-gown. However, during the lunch break is when the diversity in the Muslim community became most apparent. A quick trip into the bathroom revealed a line of men washing their feet in the sinks as part of their ritual prayer ablutions. (Fortunately, I happened to have a bottle of hand sanitizer.) At the very same time some Muslims were cleansing themselves for prayer, others chattily skipped out of the auditorium, checking their iPhones, and discussing where to go to lunch. The California Pizza kitchen across the street from the convention center was filled to the brim with Muslim attendees. Some of the women were wearing the hijab, while others dressed completely western with hair that would make Sandra Bullock proud. There were old, Arab-looking women whose primary concern during lunch was not that she must bow before Allah, but that the server would add just enough fresh cracked ground pepper to her California Cobb Salad (hold the bacon). They added Splenda to their iced teas, and chatted with family and friends in between firing off text messages.

Next, let's discuss anti-Semitism. One of my big fears was that I'd hear something anti-Semitic in one of the mosques, not be able to control myself, and stand up and yell, "I'm Jewish, assholes!!!" (and also a Muslim, of course. It's very complicated). But in all of the Friday Jumma prayers I attended, and all of the Ramadan services, and in every mosque in which I prayed, not a single word was uttered about Israel or Jews. I'm sure there are anti-Semitic feelings among those in the mosques. Why wouldn't there be? There's anti-Islamic sentiment among the Jewish population. But what was reassuring is that the mosques were places of peace. Even though I converted to Islam, I am very pro-Israel. I've actually done five tours overseas to entertain the troops. And despite my very liberal social leanings, I'm militarily hawkish. The fact that the mosques were preserved as pure houses of peace, and not as used centers of political activity leads me to believe there is hope to one day put our differences aside.

One of the major things I noticed is that the mosques are modernizing. In the more traditional mosques, the women were still sequestered away. They had to pray in a different room with the Imam's voice piped in, which I thought was kind of lame. By the way, the tradition of segregating the women didn't arise solely out of a drive for male dominance, but because back in Muhammad's time, the men didn't wear underwear. When a man prostrated himself, a woman behind him might actually see his prostate. (And we all know how hard it is to think about God when confronted with a dusty, camel-worn buttocks.) However, many of the new mosques had the women praying in the same room, albeit still behind the men. They aren't side by side yet, but it does seem to be moving in that direction.

Perhaps my favorite observation came during Ramadan when I attended a Saturday evening prayer in my hometown of San Ramon, California. San Ramon is a bedroom community for many who work in the Silicon Valley, as well as various other white collar trades in Oakland and the surrounding East Bay. Not to profile, but this mosque seemed very mixed. While some mosques are predominantly Afghani, pan-Arab, or Pakistani, the San Ramon mosque appeared to have a bit of everyone, including a handful of Wuslims, or white Muslims, of which I was one. When I entered, I noticed that there were a lot of kids, ranging in age from eight to eighteen. The striking observation, the really important thing to note is that these kids were bored out of their minds! -- just like I was when my parents dragged me to Temple B'nai Shalom for the High Holy Days. There is no greater sign of successful assimilation than a group of Muslim kids kneeling in a mosque, praying that they were back home playing video games. These kids will grow up to phone in Ramadan in the same way I wish my mom a happy Yom Kippur as I'm jaw deep in a slice of pepperoni pizza -- and my Christian wife commemorates the birth of Jesus by throwing tinsel on a tree. When it comes to creating a peaceful pluralistic society, there is safety in apathy.

Islam is on pace to surpass Judaism as the second most popular American religion (although I will next be converting to Buddhism, so no Abrahimic faith will be claiming me among its ranks). As Americans, we have a legacy of harassing a group of immigrants before accepting them into the larger culture. I believe it's time to let the Muslims stop eating goldfish and admit them to the fraternity. I think we'll be surprised at what fine Americans they'll become. Above all, please remember that it's only a tiny fraction of Muslims who are extremists. Most Muslims hate al Qaeda more than we do, because they've made their lives a living hell. Imagine if every Anglo-American was perceived as being the Unabomber. How much of a pain in the ass would it be to try to board a flight?

I of course saw much more than I can share in this brief essay. But I hope people can start to look around at their Muslim neighbors and notice many of the same things I have. Some Muslims will be angry. Some Muslim women won't wave back when you wave hello. This behavior is partly cultural, and partly resentment over their negative portrayal in the media. Still, be cool, even if it's weird at first. Like the high tension restaurant scene in Pulp Fiction, we need to follow Samuel L. Jackson's character's advice, and be a bunch of Fonzies. That way, everyone can get out alive.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Senator Williams' Remarks Offended Hindus

Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/senator-williams-offend-hindus_b_1075392.html

It is not only a Hindu issue, it is indeed an American issue. The speaking out shouldn't be just from Hindus, but Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Pagans, Wiccans, Zoroastrians and others as well. Why should anyone stand up for you, if you are not willing to do the same for others?

As people of faith, we condemn the statement made by Kentucky State Senator David Williams, "Williams charged that the actions of Beshear were tantamount to "idolatry." He stated that as a Christian, he would not participate in Jewish, Muslim or Hindu prayers, and hoped Hindus would open their eyes and "receive Jesus Christ as their personal saviour." Williams made this comment about the ground breaking ceremony of a manufacturing plant in Elizabeth Town in Kentucky that Governor Steve Beshear attended.

As a moderate Republican I am embarrassed that almost all of the bigotry in our nation is flowing out of fellow Republicans. It is time for the good Republicans to speak up and stop this flow and at least lose gracefully in 2012. If the economy turns around a little bit even a useless Democrat will win against a Republican. It is time to wake up and speak out against the bigotry of Williams and all others including the Presidential candidates.

Williams also criticized the Governor for sitting cross-legged with a "dot on his forehead," and described the ceremony as "polytheistic."

I have condemned and talked about similar pronouncements from Pat Robertson, Robert Jeffress and a few Muslims and Jewish clerics for their take on idolatry with a primitive understanding. Idols or icons are representations of God for the Hindus, just as the holy books are God's words for the Jews, Christians, Muslims and others.

No one has a right to belittle other's faiths. If Senator Williams has a problem let it be his problem and one should not malign Christianity for his bigotry. Each faith is dear to the believer and no faith is superior to the other. Faith is about humility and not arrogance. All faiths are designed to bring solace to its followers. Religion is a mechanism that gives hopes and restores one's balance with what surrounds one; people and the environment,.

Indeed, we are one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. We are represented by every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, culture and religion. We see God as one, none and many and in every form; male, female, genderless and non-existent, being and non-being, nameless and with innumerable names. Americans together are committed to preserve this pluralistic heritage of America.

No one should have a problem with other's belief, but it should become our problem when someone denigrates it. We must stand up for each one of the 312 Million Americans.


Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer committed to build a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His work is fully indexed at www.MikeGhouse.net

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hindus angry over Kentucky Republican's remarks

Its shouldn't be just Hindus, but Muslims, Christians, Jews and Atheists should also speak up on this issue. This Senator man is like a class room bully, the more others take, the more he gives. No one should have a problem with other's belief, but we should have a problem when some one denigrates the other.


As people of faith, we condemn the statement made by Kentucky State Senator David Williams, “Williams charged that the actions of Beshear were tantamount to "idolatry".He stated that as a Christian, he would not participate in Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu prayers, and hoped Hindus would open their eyes and "receive Jesus Christ as their personal saviour".


There are idiots in every group who are bent on denigrating the other religion. I have condemned and or talked about similar pronouncements from Pat Robertson, Robert Jeffress, and a few Muslims and Jewish clerics for their take on idolatry with a primitive understanding of it, idols or icons in present day terms are representations of the ultimate God. No one has a right to belittle the other’s faiths. Each faith is dear to the believer and no faith is superior to the other either. All faiths are designed to
bring solace to its followers. Religion can be defined as a mechanism that gives hopes and restores one’s balance and harmony with what surrounds one; people and the environment.


This week, in Dallas Morning News, I wrote, “As a pluralist, I want to highlight another part of the same survey where 72% of Americans do not believe that their version of God is the only way – meaning all will achieve salvation regardless of their religion. The focus of most surveys is belief in God and not which version of God or frequency of prayers.”
Mike Ghouse
Committed to cohesive societies
www.MikeGhouse.net



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Hindus angry over Kentucky Republican's remarks



The governor of the US state of Kentucky found himself at the receiving end of criticism from his Republican challenger, who termed his participation in a Hindu ceremony as 'idolatrous', sparking anger in the Hindu American community.


Kentucky State Senator, David Williams, a hopeful for the gubernatorial post, had lashed out at Governor Steve Beshear, for his participation in a 'bhoomi poojan' or ground breaking ceremony of a manufacturing facility last week.


Williams charged that the actions of Beshear were tantamount to "idolatry".


He stated that as a Christian, he would not participate in Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu prayers, and hoped Hindus would open their eyes and "receive Jesus Christ as their personal saviour".


The comments have enraged the Hindu American community, with the Washington-based Hindu American Foundation (HAF) strongly condemning it as a "blatant attack".


"The words of Senator Williams are not only an affront to Hindu Americans, but all Americans as he conjures up the lowest sentiments of exclusion and bigotry," said Suhag Shukla, managing director and legal counsel of HAF.

"He's shown he's ignorant and intolerant -- two qualities we hope Kentuckians will reject at the polls," Shukla said.


William is challenging Beshear in the State Gubernatorial elections. He trails the incumbent by a nearly 2-1 margin in the polls.

William also criticised the Governor for sitting cross-legged with a "dot on his forehead", and described the ceremony as "polytheistic".


"He's there participating with Hindu priests, participating in a religious ceremony," Williams said during a campaign stop in Shelbyville.
"He's sitting down there with his legs crossed, participating in Hindu prayers with a dot on his forehead with incense burning around him. I don't know what the man was thinking," he was quoted as saying by the local Herald leader.
Governor Beshear's campaign issued a statement calling the State Senator's remarks "pathetic and desperate".
"Gov Beshear is proud that 250 new jobs are coming to Elizabethtown," campaign spokesman Matt Erwin said in a statement.
Nevada-based Hindu activist, Rajan Zed, too condemned William's statement.
"Kentucky governorship candidate David Williams should apologise for the reported comments about the Hindu ceremony, because if elected on November eighth, he would be the governor of all Kentuckians, including Hindu Kentuckians," Zed said in a statement.
The new manufacturing facility being established in Kentucky has come as a result of Beshear's India visit last fall.