PLEASE VISIT www.CenterforPluralism.com for all information


Friday, March 29, 2013

A Muslim Pluralist Celebrates Easter


The first response from a few Muslims would be "no, no and no!" Muslims cannot celebrate resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not die, he and his message lives on! 

Whether Jesus was buried and resurrected, or taken up by God, faith in him is shared by more than half of the world inclusive of Muslims and Christians. Whether you believe in Jesus or not, his message of love thy enemy, love thy neighbor and forgive the other will set us free. Can we celebrate that message? 

Perhaps I may be the first Muslim to be baptized. It was an enriching experience to me in particular, feeling the symbolic transformation of the feeling of love towards all of God's creation. Muslims feel the same upon performance of Hajj Pilgrimage; we become child-like with love for all of God's creation; life and matter. The Hindus cherish an identical feeling when they take a dip at the Sangam in River Ganges, particularly during the Kumbh Mela.
To this Muslim, Easter represents resurrection of Jesus through his message, and Easter is a symbolic day to celebrate that message.

Continued - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/a-muslim-pluralist-celebrates-easter_b_2976582.html#es_share_ended


full story in the link at Huffington post

 Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam,Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building aCohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day atwww.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. 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 all his work through many links.    

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Democracy and Indian Muslims

The following piece "Democracy and Indian Muslims"  by Tufail Ahmad is reflective, thoughtful and dreamy.
For a Democracy to be alive and functional we have to bitch at the Government,  India is good at it and Pakistan and Bangladesh have done well in that area as well. The most patriotic person is the one who attacks government every day and on everything. We have got to keep the Government guys from becoming pig-headed.

In 1947, India rightly chose to be a secular state and Pakistani leadership erred in making it a religious state. By the way, the only two nations created on the earth based on religion are the ones facing most difficulties;Pakistan and Israel. We can blame the British or any one, but the fact is the problem persists. 

God does not have a religion himself, he was super careful in not mentioning in any holy books  that he
was a Muslim, Hindu, Christian or a Native, because he is not divisive.  God simply does not like religious governments, because he does not like any one to mess with his creation in his name. An attack on a Hindu, Muslim or any is an attack on God, who created them, do you think he likes it?  It is still not late to strip religion from the governance in Pakistan and Israel.
He prefers a government where all of his creation is treated with dignity, equality and respect. Individuals will be judged in the society by the society for the violations of others space, sustenance and nurturence, where as God  reserves the right to judge the individuals for their moral compass. 

 God loves Americans for keeping him out of school and public spaces, he doesn't need any more headaches, he washed his hands off us when he implanted a self-governing device called brain, and he wants nothing but good for his creation, and offers the same guidance to all - to treat each other with respect.

Mike Ghouse is committed to build cohesive societies - www.MikeGhouse.net


Saturday, March 16, 2013

 Democracy and Indian Muslims — Tufail Ahmad

The organising principles of Indian polity and society are the same that define a western country: a multi-party system, individualism, liberty, a free press and rule of law

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the self-confessed leader of the banned outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, may think that Pakistan is the best Islamic nation for the Bollywood star, Shahrukh Khan to move to, but it is India that is arguably the best Muslim country today. Muslims in India enjoy complete political and religious liberty, a free legislative environment to undertake economic and educational initiatives, a vibrant television media and cinema that teach liberal coexistence, and access to a vast number of universities and institutes of modern education. There is absolutely no Muslim country that offers such a vast array of freedoms to its people.

India is able to offer these freedoms to its citizens because it is a successful democracy. It was good for India to lose the 1857 war; if the British had lost, Indians would have continued to be governed by kings and nawabs, and under shari’a courts that existed during the Mughal era. At the time of independence, the British left behind a justice system that was blind to religious and caste inequities in Indian society, an inclusive democracy that guaranteed equal rights and religious and political freedoms for all; English language that opened doorway to enlightenment and scientific education; and a civil service that treated everyone as Indians rather than Muslims, Hindus or Christians. Muslims in India enjoy these freedoms because India is a thriving democracy, unlike Pakistan that chose a discriminatory constitution, barring its own citizens from holding top positions such as the president of Pakistan because they are Hindus or Christians. Over the past half century, hundreds of millions of Dalits and women have found political empowerment and social freedoms in Indian democracy.

Religion cannot be a good model of governance for modern times because it fails to imagine situations in which non-Muslim citizens could be trusted to govern a Muslim country. Conversely, democracies trust their citizens irrespective of their faith. In a democracy like India, any citizen could compete to be the elected ruler. As democracy matures, India has appointed its Muslim citizens to top positions, currently Hamid Ansari as vice president, Salman Khurshid as foreign minister, Justice Altamas Kabir as Chief Justice, and Syed Asif Ibrahim as the chief of the Intelligence Bureau. It is also true that Muslims lag behind in India’s collective life, but this is because they are under the influence of orthodox ulema or because Muslim politicians fail to imagine themselves as leaders of all Indians. A Muslim politician will be the country's prime minister the day Indian Muslims begin to view themselves as leaders of all Indians and not only of Muslims, much like Barack Obama who imagined himself as a leader not only of blacks, but of all Americans.

Effectively, India is a ‘western’ country. In the popular imagination, the west is viewed as a geographic concept, covering mainly the United States, Britain and parts of Europe. However, the ground realities are otherwise. Several countries, notably Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, are situated in the east, but in terms of their values and politics are firmly part of the west. Conversely, countries such as Russia and some in Latin America are geographically in the west but cannot be called a western country as their citizens do not enjoy the social and political freedoms available to free people in the west. The organising principles of Indian polity and society are the same that define a western country: a multi-party system, individualism, liberty, a free press and rule of law. As in a western country, consensus about governance, politics and society is moderated by media and political parties and is derived from differences rather than similarities of religion and ideology as in Saudi Arabia or North Korea.

Early this year, Shahrukh Khan wrote a long article in which he discussed how “stereotyping and contextualizing” determine the way societies treat us as individuals as we interact with others. Khan narrated that he is loved as a Bollywood star in every country, but is also questioned by officials at US airports over links to terrorists, as his surname is shared by an unknown terrorist. Khan also observed: “There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation [Pakistan].” Hafiz Saeed reacted to this statement, suggesting that Khan, and presumably all Indian Muslims, should move to Pakistan. If Khan were to move to Pakistan, think of the images he would witness everyday: the genocide of Shia Muslims; the Taliban bombers shooting girls and namazis; Karachi up in flames and Pakistani businessmen leaving the country; plight of Hindus and Christians and lawlessness everywhere.

Saeed and his cohorts must bear in mind that terrorism that affects Muslims in India originates from Pakistan: the jihad in Kashmir through the 1990s or the attacks by Indian Mujahideen collaborating with their controllers in Pakistan. Like any country, India has its own share of extremist Hindus as well as Islamic and naxalite militants, but the courts are taking care of them.

Indian democracy is a model for all Islamic countries. It is the only country where Muslims have experienced democracy solidly for more than half a century; the other countries where Muslims have had some democratic experience are Indonesia and Turkey but their experiences have been limited to just a few decades. Democracies trust their citizens and are accountable to them. Democracies also bring freedom and economic prosperity for their people. In his book, Development as Freedom, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen demonstrated that famines have occurred only in countries governed under authoritarianism while freedom available to people in democracies has ensured economic welfare of their entire populations. Indian democracy has a large Muslim population, about the same as in Pakistan. As democracy matures and economy prospers, Muslims in India are beginning to benefit from a sea of economic and educational opportunities opening before them.

Islamic and authoritarian countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and North Korea do not trust their own people. Islamic terrorists, jihadists like Hafiz Saeed and other Taliban-like Islamists think of defending their religions and ideologies rather than the interests and welfare of their people. It is due to such thinking that 180 million people of Pakistan are today literally buried under the weight of a failed education system, a rapidly collapsing Pakistani economy that is forcing business leaders to move their money to countries such Sri Lanka, lawlessness that makes common Pakistanis insecure in their own homes and a future that fails to offer hope. The Inter-Services Intelligence, a friend of Saeed that imagines itself as the ideological guardian of the Islamic state of Pakistan, could do a favour by trusting the Pakistani people and letting them decide their own course of life and governance.

The writer is a former BBC Urdu Service journalist, is Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Balance in life, how do you achieve it


Imagine walking on a tight rope between two points; you have to have a perfect balance to walk through it comfortably to complete the walk. Life is no different, every day we dodge the conversations, go head on collisions with with fellow workers, fight back with spouse, scream at friends, apologize, forgive, regret or repent..… with an unexpressed goal to remain secure and in balance.

At times, our acts and words throw us further out instead of bringing the balance. If you go through this exercise, and add to it your own questions and answer it… you will find in full control of yourselves. please feel free to share it, you might help others benefit, or more than likely you may find an answer.

Losing Material balance:

If your dining table loses one of its 4 legs
If one of the tires in your car has low air pressure
if you carry 100 # bag on one side and 10 # on the other
If you….

Losing mental balance

When we text while drive
When we get angry
When we are sad or vulnerable
When we are drunk
When we forget to say thanks to a friend
When we choose to hold the grudges

Losing spiritual balance

When you got too many things going at one time
When confusion enters your mind
When you don’t know yourselves
When you lie to some one
When you betray the trust with some one
When you break an agreement
When you bad mouth others

How do you gain the balance back?

Call back the person you failed to say thanks
Just don’t drink and drive
Fill the tires back up
Never lie – if you do, figure it out to offset
Some are easy, some are not, and that is life.
It is you choice if you want to have that balance or not.

This is the simplistic formula for simple issues; the tough items of life are no different. There is no reason for any one to have the balance in life.

You cannot achieve balance in everything, but the more things you balance in your life, the happier you would be.

If you have a group, we can carry a interactive workshop in achieving balance in life.

URL - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2013/03/balance-in-life-how-do-you-achieve-it.html

Mike Ghouse is a life coach. He will motivate, educate and entertain your group in creating a cohesive environment to work, socialize and function effectively. He offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day . Details at www.mikeghouse.net

Friday, March 15, 2013

Muslims Condemn brutal attacks on Hindus and Hindu Temples by Muslims in Bangladesh

Friday, March 15, 2013
Muslims Condemn brutal attacks on Hindus and Hindu Temples by Muslims in Bangladesh; this goes against the very grain of Islam. The culprits must be punished to restore trust and justice to the Hindus of Bangladesh.

The following press release is an expression of Muslims to register their protest, repentance and desire to restore trust among the Hindus of Bangladesh who are harassed and under attacks. This is not acceptable in Islam. 

We condemn these disgusting acts of Muslims among us, who are hell bent on hurting fellow Bangladeshis, because they are Hindus. These acts go against the very essence of Quran to treat every human, animal and the environment with dignity. Quran could not be clearer than this, “killing one person is like killing the whole humanity, and saving one life is like saving the entire  mankind.”    

The insane attacks on Hindus are referenced in several reports below, please read different reports to get the full picture, a commission must be established to report the findings.

The majority of Muslims are peace loving, however a few among us are not, and it is our responsibility to not let those few tarnish the name of our religion. We need to do our Jihad, and our struggle to bring justice and trust in the society. 

In the interest of containing, cornering and mitigating the conflict, we urge the Bangladeshi Government to take all the precautions to single out the individuals responsible for the chaos.

We appeal to the authorities, not to arrest the miscreants as Muslims or members of any of the religious or political organizations but as Individuals. Per Quran and per any civil law, the individual alone is responsible for his acts, and not his family members, mayor of his town, Imam of his Mosque, Bangladesh or Islam in this case. If we follow this wisdom, we will contain the problem to individuals and prevent further aggravation by pitting one group against the other.

The success of a nation depends when her citizens feel secure; in this case, it is the duty of the state to ensure the safety of Hindus, Buddhist, Shia, Ahmadiyya, Christian and other minorities.
It is also the obligation of the Bangladeshi majority to continue to speak up against the brutal treatment of fellow Bangladeshis who are Hindu. Indeed, the safety of a community is the responsibility of the majority.  

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) established a government in Medina, where no Jew, Christian or others were to feel insecure. He further gave one of the strongest instructions to Muslims – If any one of you is unjust to the other, By God, on the Day of Judgment, I will stand up against you in support of the victims. As a Muslim, I ask Muslims to come together to take these individual actions: 

1. Call the embassies and ask them to urge their Government to protect the Hindus immediately:
Washington DC at (202) 244-0183 – Fax (202) 244-2771http://www.bdembassyusa.org/  
Ottawa, Canada at (613)-236-0138-39 – Fax 
(613)-567-3213  http://www.bdhc.org/ 
and or Bangladeshi Embassy in the your country 

Home Ministry in Bangladesh at  
http://www.mha.gov.bd/  Dr. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, Minister, Phone Number 7169069 – email mkalamgir@yahoo.com   

2. Request the Government to restore the damaged homes of the Bangladeshi Hindus.

3. Request a commission of inquiry and a dialogue to rebuild cohesiveness in the Bangladeshi society, where no Bangladeshi has to live in fear of the other.

Donate whatever you can to re-build the demolished Hindu temples; we will have to find a reliable Organization in Bangladesh to ensure funds will be used strictly to rebuild the temples. The first $100.00 will come from the World Muslim Congress. We will set up a fund with trustees from Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian Members and seek support from the Bangladeshi Organizations in Dallas.

We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of every Citizen. We (the Muslims) should be the Amins of the world, where Hindus, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists and all others trust us to be just, fair and truthful. They should feel safe around us, for us to be the Amins in fulfilling the first foundational Sunnah of the prophet.

  • Images of atrocities against Hindus

Mike Ghouse, President
World Muslim Congress
Foundation for Pluralism
2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206
Dallas, TX 75234
(214) 325-1916 – text/talk



Your Excellency,

I am concerned about the plight of Hindus in Bangladesh, and request you to ask your Government to protect the Hindus immediately. Please initiate a commission to find the facts and work on restoring damages temples and homes of the Hindu Bangladeshis. I also urge a national and local dialogue to begin in building a cohesive Bangladesh, where no Bangladeshi has to live in the fear of other.

Your Name:

Muslims Condemn acts of Violence against Christians in Pakistan, and assert that this not an act of Islam.

The following Petition is an expression of Muslims to register their protest,repentance and desire for restoration of Law and order in Pakistan. It also requests the Muslims to ponder about the blasphemy laws of the nation.

URL- http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/03/muslims-condemn-acts-of-violence.html

March 9, 2013 - Lahore, Pakistan, A mob of Muslims burnt down about 150 homes of Christians living in Joseph Town near Lahore, and the carnage continues. “As Muslims, we are embarrassed and ashamed of these men who call themselves Muslims, we condemn these acts unequivocally.” commented Mike Ghouse who heads the World Muslim Congress, a think tank in Dallas, Texas.

The redeeming factor this time around is the arrest of over 100 miscreants, condemnations from Jamaat e Islami and the Punjab Chief Minister. President Zardari finally woke up and talked about restoring Law and order. This is indeed the good news, and must be appreciated,  similar action needs to be taken against the murderers of hundreds of Shia, and harassment of Ahmadiyya, Hindus and other minorities. A nations moves forward when her citizens feel safe and law and order is maintained. Indeed, the hallmark of a civil society is where no Citizens of a nation fears the other.

While Law and order brings  the situation under control; it does not put off the fires completely, the dying sparks grow and explode again unless they are addressed.  

The Muslim majority is deeply concerned about it. We urge Pakistani Muslim Americans in particular, and Muslims around the world in General to create a fund to rehabilitate the families who have lost their homes, that is the least we can do as repentance.

Muslims at large are at fault for allowing the abuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan, which is anathema to the Character of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), regarded as mercy to the mankind. It is time for Muslims to mean it.

Do Prophet, Quran and God need our protection?

What do parents do when their child runs out on the street? Protect, protect and protect from all the perceived threats. They do that because their child is not capable of defending him or herself from the street bullies.  What do you do when you little daughter is in conflict with the other? You protect, protect and protect.

If we believe that the Prophet needs our protection, then we are dead wrong. He has been around and will be there through eternity. As Muslims, we need to believe in him, he is not going anywhere nor will he be hurt or harmed with any insults.

Don’t we proudly talk about Hazrat Umar’s examples of justice? It is time to believe and act now.

The 2nd Caliph of Islam Umar was known for Justice. Once, he refused to punish a thief, as he saw that the state fell short of the responsibility to create a society where the man did not have to steal food to feed his hungry kids, the very basic needs of life.  

The condition for Christians in Pakistan is shameful.

Asia Bibi was denied water from a public source because an arrogant Muslim woman was drawing the water from the same well at that time.  That is most egregious insult; denial of water.  What were her choices? Even if she had cursed the arrogant Muslim lady, her religion or her prophet, Hazrat Umar would have forgiven her due to circumstances. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would have gone a step further; he would have set a model for Muslims to follow. He would not only have forgiven her, but perhaps carried her water to her home.  After all he was Rahmatul Aalameen, a mercy to mankind, was he not?

There was another incident, where an Imam burnt a page from Quran to frame a Christian, he should have been nailed.

Prophet is not going anywhere.

Islam is not going anywhere; prophet is not going anywhere, and by opening ourselves up to criticism, we will learn a lot more about our faith than we would ever know. We need to move away from intolerance to acceptance of a different point of view without having to agree with it. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived through it and Muslims can learn from his examples.

 Criticism can fade away or rain on us depending on how Muslims respond to it.  Lack of conviction in one's faith breeds intolerance towards criticism, whereas firmness in faith can lead us to learn from criticism, explore the infinite wisdom and realize the strength of our faith (Imaan); a worthy feeling to have, instead of living in doubt and shooing criticism away.

 Pastor Jeffress of Dallas called the Quran, a false book written by the false prophet. We looked at the examples of the prophet and followed his graceful model and held an unusual Quran conference with non-Muslim clergy on the panel to address the issue. A full accounting of the event, including extensive media interviews and the program in details is at www.QuraanConference.com

When you have an issue with your spouse and child, you don't scream and shut them down; the problem will not go away unless you face it and solve the issue. When people accept the solutions willingly, we will have peace. The Christians, Shia, Ahmadiyya, Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities in Pakistan need to feel safe. They must be heard and justice must be served, isn't Islam is all about that?

I urge fellow Muslims to be open to all the criticism with confidence, don't shut it, and let freedom of speech be the corner stone of Islam. Islam stands on its own; it does not need our defense, and it is silly to protect God or the Prophet, they are not weaklings or our property to protect, they belong to the whole universe, don't they?

 If they curse the prophet, prophet is not going to be cursed, have the strength in your faith and return badness with Good; we know all the examples of his work. When you hear someone curse the prophet, just say I am sorry you feel that way, but if you wish to seek the truth, find it on your own or I will connect you with someone who can guide you, if you don't that is your choice and nothing will come off me or the prophet, your words do not have the power to reduce Islam or the prophet, I will pray peace of mind to you. 

Islam is not going anywhere, prophet is not going anywhere, and by opening up you will enjoy your Imaan (faith) immensely with genuine admiration for its wisdom. I thank Allah for helping me see the light and beauty of Islam, and you can too.

This petition is authored by Mike Ghouse of World Muslim Congress and initially supported by the following Muslim Organizations.  

World Muslim Congress, United States
MCC for Human Services Texas

Ninteen Organization, United States

REFERENCES - Standing up for humanity

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Muslims welcome Pope Francis

Dallas, Texas, March 13, 2013 – The World Muslim Congress, a think tank, and the Foundation for Pluralism congratulate the new Pope, Pope Francis.

“I hope he heralds a new beginning for building a better world. In behalf of the people of faith or no faith, and my faith Islam, I welcome the Pope and make ourselves available to jump at his call for creating a peace in the world, where no human has to live in fear of the others, let the world be the new kingdom of heaven where we all feel safe and secure with each other. Amen”

There are a few deeply rooted conflicts among the Muslim-Christian, and Jewish-Christian communities that are the root cause of much of the conflict in the world, they have been simmering within the hearts and minds of the Christians, Muslims and Jews, and flare up now and then in difficult expressions.

The world needs a powerful personality to urge Muslims and Christians to accept the otherness of the other without the temptation to correct the other. It needs a strong personality that can absolve Jews from the myths ascribed to them. It needs a pope who is a blessed peacemaker and extends his embrace to the Pagans, Hindus and all others who do not worship or worship God in their own way. We are all children of God and honoring each other is honoring the creator.

He has got to initiate a dialogue on same sex marriage, women priesthood, birth control, intrafaith, and interfaith relations.

The pope is singularly the most important person on the world stage besides the President of the United States who can affect positive or negative outcomes. He can aggravate the conflicts or mitigate them and earn the blessings of Jesus – Blessed are the peacemakers.

We pray that Pope Francis ushers us into a new era of dialogue and respect for each other, Amen.

Mike Ghouse
World Muslim Congress
Foundation for Pluralism

2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206
Dallas, TX 75234
(214) 325-1916 – text or phone

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam,Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building aCohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day atwww.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. 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 all his work through many links.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Brouhaha over Ahmedinejad consoling Chavez’s mother, it angers Iranian clerics.


The photo, released by Venezuela's Miraflores Press Office, shows Elena Frías' right hand clutching Ahmadinejad's left, her head against his, as they stand near the flag-draped coffin of her son at a military academy in Caracas, Venezuela, on Friday.

Yahoo reports, "The image drew the immediate fury of Tehran's religious conservatives. "No unrelated women can be touched unless she is drowning at sea or needs medical treatment," Hojat al-Islam Hossein Ibrahimi, a cleric at the Society of Militant Clergy, said, according to Iran's Al-Monitor."

Pamela Geller, America's profiteer from maligning Islam will have a hay day tomorrow, she profits from selling hate to the dumbos out there. But some Rabbi will tell her to shut up; it is not the creeping Muslim Brotherhood thing, but a Rabbi thing also. She has done many stupid things in the past, like jumping all over Muslims for the Halal slaughter of Animals, the Rabbis (and I believe the ADL also) had to tell her to shut up that is precisely a Jewish practice. In December 2012, I was on Fox News twice (Not Hannity) telling that it was a wrong idea to put billboards in the subways, and mentioned the consequence of a nutcase making threats to a Muslim woman, sadly a Hindu man was killed.

In February, on Hannity she wrote on her site that she is going to drag down this Islamist guy Mike Ghouse, fortunately I was able to shut her up and drag her down on Hannity show, so she changes my title from Islamist to a Moderate Muslim the next day.  I like Pamela's passion, she and I have no ill-will or animosity between us we are good and civil to each other. If she can apply that in building peace she will be successful. 

As a pluralist, I always ask is this act exclusive to one community or does the shoe fits the others as well.  In this case, is not hugging or handshaking exclusive to Muslims?  Do others hold similar views? Hold it before you laugh at the Iranian religious clergy, more than likely your Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, Sikh Gyani, Buddhist Monk, Hindu Pundit and few Christian priests and others will not even shake hands with a woman.  I was even shocked to hear Congressman Ron Paul say, "I will not travel with an un-related woman" during the campaign trial last year.

It is neither a bad practice nor a good one. It is just a precautionary practice. Most of the abuse of women occurs from close relatives and the people they trust, given that it is safer to keep physical contact out of the relationship.

It also depends on how comfortable you are with the others. Personally, I am comfortable with hugs with men and women equally, and hesitation never crawls through my mind.

My Jewish friend Muriel and I always give a hug, then she laughs at me, how dare you are, a Muslim giving a hug to a Jewish princess? In one of the Unity Day events some seven eight years ago, I was under the weather, so I kept my distance, one lady walked up for the hug, and I held back… she started telling you Muslims don't hug women… I said; hold it dear, I am holding back because I have colds. You and I have hugged far too many times before for you to draw such conclusions. 

Our Imams and Rabbis are super careful in shaking hands or hugging women, and we need to respect their space.

After I married Yasmeen, we went to several of her friend's houses and when some pictures were taken, I was my usual self, and put my hand over the shoulders of her friends, forgetting the difference in culture, my wife reminded me that it is not a comfortable thing to do. It was re-learning to me, no one was ever uncomfortable with me before. The guy who teaches multi-culturalism goofed up himself. Ha!

- - - - - -
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam,Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building aCohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day atwww.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. 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 all his work through many links.