B U L L E T I N

PLEASE VISIT www.CenterforPluralism.com for all information

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Interfaith Christmas: Boundless God

No matter what faith you profess, the interfaith Christmas can offer everything you had always wanted; to live in peace and harmony with fellow beings without apprehension or fear of the other.  I hope this essay shines a light on the larger idea of humanity, and gives you a sense of connection with fellow beings without being a Christian.  
Full article - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/interfaith-christmas-making-god-boundless_b_2347856.html
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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Muslim Leap of Faith: Offering Interfaith Prayers at Newtown

Would Mahatma Gandhi go to heaven? Even though each member of the faith will thoughtfully acknowledge that he would, but the ones who live in cocoons, would say, not until he calls on Jesus as his savior, or recites the Shahadah (Muslim pledge). A Muslim took an incredible leap of faith on the national TV on the eve of interfaith prayers in Newton Connecticut, in presence of the president, watch the video.


  
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

God belongs in our hearts and not in school

The need to keep God in our hearts is important, he remains a loving God, but when we project him in public square or schools, it has a chance to hurt one child or the other, who does not see God the same way as others. Should we not respect that individual?

Would God like any one of his children be hurt invoking his, her or its name?

There 'may' be a way out, if we all can agree that God is a convenient name to the energy that caused, sustains and terminates life, and each one of us can respect each others' belief that it could to be a male/ female or genderless, one, none and many, nameless/ multiple names, existent or non-existent being, specific or generic... isn't that causer universal? Shouldn't we?

Isn't better to keep God in our hearts than dump him in school and hurt him? Have we not created him in our own image, as others have in their own image?



I see a lot of sense in keeping God to ourselves, and within our hearts. We can always pray anytime and anywhere, one the bus, in the shower or in a quiet moment. Until such time when all of us can accept to school prayers, not the majority, but the unanimity across the board, we need to respect this particular law. Our model is something other nations can emulate some day, a model where every human is valued for who he is, what he eats, drinks, wears or believes. As long as one’s actions do not affect public safety, he or she should have the freedom to do anything. My freedom hinges on freedom of others that surround me.
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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Prayers to honor victims of Connecticut shooting

We have to work on developing a society, where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. We pray for peace and kindness to prevail, please join us for the interfaith prayers to honor the ones who have lost their lives.


Dec. 15, 2012 - We stand with the families, who have lost their loved ones at the Connecticut shooting today, and we pray for the safety and security of the ones shaken by the incident, and pray that confidence is stored to the children and families who are scared.

As Americans we have to come together to mourn and reflect on this tragedy, and find sustainable solutions. We have to assure our children, or those children who have no one to assure, that what happened is bad, and we all have to work to prevent it.

We have to remember that no matter how hurting it is, we cannot blame an ideology or guns; it is the reckless attitudes of the deranged individuals that caused the killing. They need help, if we spot such individuals, we need to report them to find help for them, it is our silence that is bad, and we need to let our children know that if they see any one behave unusually, they need to tell the parents or their teachers in school. We have had four incidents this year in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Illinois and now in Connecticut and we cannot have our children live in fear.

We pray for peace and kindness to prevail, and seek the divine guidance to bless us with guidance to prevent these tragedies. At this time, we have to come together to express our support to the victims and their families.

We have to work on developing a society, where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. We are all in this together.

Join us tomorrow for interfaith prayers, at 3:00 PM at 1210 E. Beltine Road, Richardson, TX 75081 
 


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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Khushali Greetings to HH Aga Khan and the Ismaili Muslims

Khushali Greetings to Ismaili Muslims and HH Aga Khan
URL - http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/12/khushali-greetings-to-hh-aga-khan-and.html


HH Karim Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He is a direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through Prophet’s daughter Hazrat Fatima (ra) and her husband Hazrat Ali (ra), who was the first cousin of Prophet Muhammad, and the first Imam in Shia tradition.

Indeed, Hazrat Ali was the first male to become a Muslim when the prophet shared his message of oneness of God, accountability of one’s actions and creating cohesive societies through justice.



Karim Aga Khan was born on December 13, 1936. At the age of 20, he succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan and became the 49th hereditary Imam of the community.  He is the final interpreter of Qur’an and provides authoritative guidance on matters of faith to the Ismaili Muslims.

Khushali is a week long birthday celebration of HH Aga Khan. The entire Ismaili Muslim community meets in the Jamaat Khana (community center) for the whole week, extolling his work and his service to their community and humanity. 

He is one of the rare gems of Islamic scholarship and a Harvard Graduate. He has understood the essence of Islam and articulates it very well. Islam to him is serving and caring for people around you, regardless of their affiliation. A vision put forth by the Prophet, when he said a good deed is like planting a seed, knowing full well, that you may not be the beneficiary of the fruit and shade of the eventual tree in years to come, the prophet said, that is a good deed, it is leaving a good legacy for the next generation, as we have bequeathed from the previous one.

One of the unique qualities of Aga Khan is his ability to seamlessly blend the spiritual and the material worlds. Prophet Muhammad and Hazrat Ali, both preached moderation, and creating a balance between ascetic living and living for material comforts. 


I drop things to read and listen to his speeches, it’s all about pluralism.  I urge fellow humans to consider listening to him. His talks encompass the idea embedded in God being the God of the universes, not for the 47% but for the full 100% of his creation.  Prophet Muhammad is the mercy to mankind, not just Muslims but the entire 100% of humanity, what he preached was to create cohesive societies, where no human had to live in fear of the other. The only fear he advocated was fear of God for doing wrong to fellow beings. 

Aga Khan lives by example to his 15 Million plus followers around the world. The best way to learn about him is his work, the development work to uplift the ones in the ditches, his institution teaches them how to catch the fish and be self supporting. Visit www.akdn.org/ 


May he live a long life and serve his community, the Muslim community and every one of the 7 billion of humans.


I am pleased to include Dr. Peerwani's comment:
 
Thank you Mike for posting this on His Highness the Aga Khan, a truly remarkable man. The Ismailies, as you are aware, follow the “batini” path and differ in some of the practices. It is truly sad that they are maligned and rejected by the orthodoxy. As the Arab Spring now moves into its second phase, acceptance of diversity will be the litmus test. Without this, there is no democracy. Let me quote something from the speech of PM Harper of Canada:

“Your Highness, there are no superlatives to adequately describe the admiration Canadians have for the work that you and your organizations do in the service of pluralism, peace and development around the world. You truly inspire our own hopes for a better world. We Canadians are rightly proud of the fact that we have built one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse and harmonious societies on earth. This achievement is rooted in our founding values: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

But it’s also rooted in our unique history and the heroic agreements our founding peoples made to acknowledge and accommodate their diversity. As you yourself have said, you’re Highness, and I quote, “We cannot make the world safe for democracy unless we also make the world safe for diversity.” If I may say so, sir, you sound like a Canadian. And in fact, you are. On June 19, 2009, our House of Commons voted unanimously to bestow Honorary Canadian Citizenship on His Highness the Aga Khan. This is, if I may say, a richly deserved honor.”

(Abstract from the Speech by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, May 10, 2010)

A few of the many articles published at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com, a site committed to nurturing pluralist values of Islam.
  1. The book, where hope takes root by Aga Khan http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2008/06/aga-khan-democracy-pluralism.html

     
  2. Aga Khan - Indeed building bridges is part of the Muslim heritage, as Muslims, our role is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill. The Aga Khan is doing just that http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2008/04/aga-khan-building-bridges.htm
  3. Aga Khan, fifty years of Imamat http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2008/04/aga-khan-50-years-of-imamat.html
  4. Aga Khan Speech about balance http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/04/speech-by-his-highness-aga-khan-at.html
  5. Global Religious leaders http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2008/04/global-religious-leaders.html
  6. Architect of universal good http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2008/04/architect-of-universal-good.html

  7. Shia Imami Muslims
    http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/08/shia-imami-ismaili-muslims.html

  8. Criticism of Islam, Prophet and Quran
    http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/11/criticism-of-islam-prophet-muhammad.html

  9. Respecting Muslim Caliphs (Khalifa), Imams and decidersThe most persecuted communities among Muslims today are the Ahmadiyya Muslims followed by Shia Muslims by Sunni Muslims.  We know it is not Islamic to be unjust, oppressive and harassive towards others, Muslims or otherwise, but yet it is going on in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and even in India.  As a Muslim, it is my duty to speak up, and if all of us do our share of speaking up, at least we have fulfilled the responsibility to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil.   http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/12/respecting-muslim-caliphs-khalifa-imams.html 

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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Texas Faith: Is it really possible to heal the world?

The human inclination to see justice in one’s own life time causes people to lean on the end-times, where no one goes free. They are fixed up here, pay for it in the next life (Abrahamic) or go thru reincarnation (Dharmic). Religions offer those beliefs to heal one’s soul. The mere thought of justice relieves one from the anguish. Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Navaratri and other festivities are restorative therapies to heal the soul.  Continued: http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/12/texas-faith-is-it-really-possible-to.html



Dallas Morning News, Texas Faith Column.
Is it really possible to heal the world? 

Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote last week about Chanukah, describing it as “the holiday celebrating the triumph of hope over fear, light over darkness, the powerless over the powerful.” 

He went on to say that Chanukah is about “understanding that when we connect with the transformative power of the universe, the Force of Healing and Transformation, YHVH, we become aware that the powerless can become powerful, that oppression of any sort is in contradiction to the fundamental nature of human beings as loving, kind, generous, free, creative, intelligent, attuned to beauty, caring for and needing each other beings created in the image of God. When that energy and awareness permeates our consciousness, no ruling elite and no system of exploitation can possibly last for very long.”


Of course, this also is the month when Christians will hear much about bringing joy to the world, peace on earth and goodwill to all. 


But is that so? Is it really possible to heal the world? 


Some whose theology predicts end-times see the world as marching from bad to worse, with God intervening at the end. Others hold to a theology that sees them as being used by God to bring his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Still others are neither so fatalistic nor optimistic.
Where do you stand? What does your faith tradition say about healing the world?

 MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

The physical or the spiritual world sustains its equilibrium through the self-balancing mechanism built into it. When that balance is knocked off through our recklessness, like global warming or the destruction of nations and families through wars and egregious selfishness, the God-given system becomes energized and becomes capable of restoring to its pristine equilibrium, as it was created, provided an effort is made to heal. That way, we can live freely from anxiety again.


When the world came into being through evolution, creation or big bang, it produced two significant things: matter and life.


Every piece of matter in the universe is programmed to have its own balance whether it is the sun, moon or other galaxies. In chapter 55: 5-8, the Quran says, God has set a place for everything in the scheme of things and has designed them to maintain their own cohesion.

On the spiritual plane, God advises in Quran (55:9), “weigh, therefore, [your deeds] with equity, and cut not the measure short!” Indeed, the human life is not put on auto-pilot like matter. We were endowed with the free will to strive for that continual balance.


Rabbi Lerner sets the fundamental loving nature as the base of balance and peace. Human selfishness continuously knocks that balance off.


If the balance is not restored in our life-time, when tyrants get away, murderers cannot be found, then the end-time scenarios come into play.


The human inclination and desire to see justice in one’s own life time causes people to lean on the end times, where no one goes free. They are fixed up, pay for it in the next life (Abrahamic) or go thru reincarnation (Dharmic). Religions offer those beliefs to heal one’s soul. The mere thought of justice relieves one from the anguish.


We have the responsibility to heal the world to live a conflict-free life. Chief Seattle puts it precisely, that we are all interconnected in this massive web, which we did not create, but happen to a be a strand in it. If we mess with any strand, we mess with the whole web and ourselves.


Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Navaratri or other festivities are restorative therapies to heal the soul.


Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!
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The Texas Faith blog is a discussion among formal and informal religious leaders whose faith traditions express a belief in a transcendent power – or the possibility of one. While all readers are invited to participate in this blog, by responding in the comments section, discussion leaders are those whose religion involves belief in a divine higher power or those who may not believe in a transcendent power but leave room for the possibility of one. Within this framework, moderators William McKenzie and Wayne Slater seek to bring a diversity of thinkers onto the Texas Faith panels.

To see responses from all the panelists, please visit Dallas Morning News at:
http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/2012/12/texas-faith-is-it-really-possible-to-heal-the-world.html/
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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy Hanukkah

HAPPY HANUKKAH | HAPPY CHANUKAH Foundation for Pluralism | Pluralism Center

Festival are a collective celebration of an achievement in a given community. The Festival of Hanukkah celebrates the recovery and re-dedication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.E. Hanukkah, (also Chanukah) is celebrated for eight days and nights. It starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev and each year the date differs due to the Lunar calendar. This year the festivities began with the lighting of Menorah on Saturday, December 8th and the celebrations will continue thru the 15th. Continued at - http://pluralismcenter.blogspot.com/2012/12/happy-hanukkah.html



Hanukkah means dedication, and this holiday commemorated the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Greek-Syrian army in 165 BCE.
Learning about each other demystifies the myths about others and opens the doors of understanding. Indeed the best way to create a cohesive meaningful society is to be part of the joy, suffering and pain of the other. Our happiness hinges on the happiness of others around us and it is in our interests to be a part of the whole.

On my part I am committed to writing, talking and speaking about the essence of every possible festival that humans celebrate. I am pleased to share the following from different sources as I have not completed my own writing. I am blessed to have written about the essence of every major religious festival of the world continuously in the last twenty years.
What I write is the essence of the festival. This year, I found one of the best pieces written by Rabbi Michael Lerner, who and I met in Melbourne some, Australia and have kept up writing to each other since then.

Following is a compilation about Hanukkah.



Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote this week about Chanukah, describing it as "the holiday celebrating the triumph of hope over fear, light over darkness, the powerless over the powerful."  He went on to say that Chanukah is about "understanding that when we connect with the transformative power of the universe, the Force of Healing and Transformation, YHVH, we become aware that the powerless can become powerful, that oppression of any sort is in contradiction to the fundamental nature of human beings as loving, kind, generous, free, creative, intelligent, attuned to beauty, caring for and needing each other beings created in the image of God. When that energy and awareness permeates our consciousness, no ruling elite and no system of exploitation can possibly last for very long."

The Hanukkah Story
Here is the story I received in email. Author unknown.

In 168 B.C.E. the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. This upset the Jewish people, but many were afraid to fight back for fear of reprisals. Then in 167 B.C.E. the Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death. He also ordered all Jews to worship Greek gods.

Jewish resistance began in the village of Modiin, near Jerusalem. Greek soldiers forcibly gathered the Jewish villages and told them to bow down to an idol, then eat the flesh of a pig – both practices that are forbidden to Jews. A Greek officer ordered Mattathias, a High Priest, to acquiesce to their demands, but Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward and offered to cooperate on Mattathias' behalf, the High Priest became outraged. He drew his sword and killed the villager, then turned on the Greek officer and killed him too. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked the remaining soldiers, killing all of them.
Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the mountains, where other Jews wishing to fight against the Greeks joined them. Eventually they succeeded in retaking their land from the Greeks. These rebels became known as the Maccabees, or Hasmoneans.

Once the Maccabees had regained control they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem. By this time it had been spiritually defiled by being used for the worship of foreign gods and also by practices such as sacrificing swine. Jewish troops were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days. But to their dismay, they discovered that there was only one day's worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days.
This is the miracle of the Hanukkah oil that is celebrated every year when Jews light a special menorah known as a hanukkiyah for eight days. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second, and so on, until eight candles are lit.

Significance of Hanukkah

According to Jewish law, Hanukkah is one of the less important Jewish holidays. However, Hanukkah has become much more popular in modern practice because of its proximity to Christmas.

Hanukkah falls on the twenty-fifth day of the Jewish month of Kislev. Since the Jewish calendar is lunar based, every year the first day of Hanukkah falls on a different day – usually sometime between late November and late December. Because many Jews live in predominately Christian societies, over time Hanukkah has become much more festive and Christmas-like. Jewish children receive gifts for Hanukkah – often one gift for each of the eight nights of the holiday. Many parents hope that by making Hanukkah extra special their children won't feel left out of all the Christmas festivities going on around them.

Hanukkah Traditions

Every community has its unique Hanukkah traditions, but there are some traditions that are almost universally practiced. They are: lighting the hanukkiyah, spinning the dreidel and eating fried foods.
  • Lighting the hanukkiyah: Every year it is customary to commemorate the miracle of the Hanukkah oil by lighting candles on a hanukkiyah. The hanukkiyah is lit every night for eight nights. Learn more about the hanukkiyah in: What Is a Hanukkiyah? | How to Light the Hanukkah Menorah | Hanukkah Candle Lighting Blessings.

  • Spinning the dreidel: A popular Hanukkah game is spinning the dreidel, which is a four-sided top with Hebrew letters written on each side. Read The Hanukkah Dreidel to learn more about the dreidel, the meaning of the letters and how to play the game. Gelt, which are chocolate coins covered with tin foil, are part of this game.
  • Eating fried foods: Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is traditional to eat fried foods such as latkes and sufganiyot during the holiday. Latkes are pancakes made out of potatoes and onions, which are fried in oil and then served with applesauce. Sufganiyot (singular: sufganiyah) are jelly-filled donuts that are fried and sometimes dusted with confectioners’ sugar before eating. Learn more about Hanukkah food

Happy Hannukah
Compiled by Mike Ghouse

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Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place and standing up for others as an activist. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News, fortnightly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes everything you want to know about him.