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Thursday, February 19, 2015

What are holy books for? Quran, Bible, Torah, Vedas, Tipitaka, Kalapa Sutras, Granth Saheb, Kitab Al Aqdas, Gathas and others

What are the holy books for?

Of course, Quran, Bible, Torah, Vedas, Gita, Tipitaka, Kalapa Sutras, Granth Saheb, Kitab Al Aqdas, Gathas (random order) or other holy books and oral traditions are designed to build peaceful societies, where people can get along and not live in fear of each other. 99+% of people in any group get that right and few don’t. Those who don’t get it right keep finding faults with others.

Religion is really for those who have stinky attitudes towards other’s be it in the form or race, religion, culture, tradition or ethnicity.  By the way if you can function with others cohesively and peacefully, religion is not needed. Religion is merely a vehicle to make you a good human to live and let live.

Indeed, these books and their message was to restore trust in the society, create safety for every member be it invincible or vulnerable, so everyone can go on about their pursuit of their life, liberty and happiness. 

Years ago, I did a radio talk show where we read the entire Bible, Bhagwad Gita, Quran, and Parts of other books in a period of two years, one hour a day for a lay person on the street to understand each religion and remove his or her bias towards others.

Now, on a random basis, I will be writing and speaking about the essence of every religion  and I would invite everyone from every faith to propose an aspect from their tradition (Wicca, Pagans, Native or other) or a chapter from their holy book.

First lesson:

Sura Kafirun - "Un-believers"

The following understanding of Sura Kafirun was written on July 5, 2008, almost five years ago and now, on this day February 09, 2013, it is being dedicated to Pastor Bob Roberts for his bold take on respecting the otherness of others,  URL- The link http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/07/sura-kafirun-un-believers.html 

The following Chapter (Sura) from Qur’an addresses the believers (of other faiths) in the most dignified way, putting every one on par without denigrating any. It is an exceptional example of civil conduct for one to follow. No where in this chapter a claim is made that the faith of Muslims is superior to others, or others' faith to be inferior.

Kafirun is an exemplary Surah teaching civil dialogue, throughout the Sura, the other is treated respectfully and as an equal, “I do not worship what you worship, and you do not worship what I worship” – it does not say your worship is inferior to mine. The element of arrogance was not given a room in this chapter. Because you hold a different belief, your belief is not belittled.

This chapter is about consciously nurturing civility in societies. It is not about overlooking the differences and focusing on commonalities, it is simply about accepting the otherness of other. You are who you are and I am who I am and let's figure out how we can co-exist with the least tensions. This is the basis of pluralism - i.e., respecting the otherness of others.

I believe all religions are beautiful and none is graded to be superior or inferior. I am a Muslim by choice, and pleased to be one, I may not believe what others believe, as others may not believe what I believe. I will accept them for who they are, as they would accept me for who I am. I will not disrespect any faith, as it amounts to arrogance, and God simply does not like any one who is arrogant, indeed, arrogance is the root cause of all conflicts.

Arrogance kills the very spirit of Islam – Justice, peace and equality. Islam is about live and let live. Learning to accept and respect others' right to exist and figure out the best way to co-exist. A majority of Muslims get this right, and few don't, indeed that is the case with every religion.

As the saying goes "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder", I would add " faith is in the heart of the believer". As a Muslim, your and my role is to to mitigate the conflicts and nurture goodwill among peoples and nations. That brings peace, and that is the other word for Islam.

In another chapter, God essentially says, I have created ya'll from a single couple, and made you into many tribes, communities and nations. Each one of you is different and unique with your own thumb print, DNA, taste bud and behavior bud. He also said, had I willed, I would have punched you all out from a factory template to exact specifications, all males to be precisely same height, weight, color and same with the females. But I chose to make you unique and gave you complete free will to create harmony and cohesiveness within and with what surrounds you. Then he concludes, the best one among is you is the one who learns about each other. Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of the other resulting in harmony and peace (Islam).

What does submitting to God's will mean? Just as we love the food we cook, enjoy the results of the work we do, God loves his creation and likes every one to get along. God's will is that we care for the life and environment and lead a just life that leads to a state of peace and harmony for his creation. That's is the bottom line; that is what Jesus meant when he said " follow me" or Krishna said " "surrender to me".

The following chapter in Qur'aan does not say, that others' belief is inferior, in fact it says, as your belief is dear to you, as my belief is dear to me. So much respect is given to the other faith.

God willing, I have embarked on compiling the translations of Qur'aan as people of other faiths can relate with it, in a language that would be familiar to them. At this time, one of the best Qur'an translations available is by Mohammad Asad and I recommend you to use it as a reference, rather than some of the mistranslations on the market. Even this translation has a few flaws in dealing with women, but the translations is better than most other translations.

I would recommend you to check out a few columns to understand the wrong doing and deliberate mistranslations of the Qur'aan, both by the early European Kings to paint Islam in the bad light for their own gains and by the Muslims after the fall of Ottoman empire to egg on Muslims to support their cause, you also see a piece on origins of Islamophobia.

There was a movie made by Geert Wilders and he continues to dupe the Neocons (Literalist or sticklers in every faith) by quoting 14 verses from Qur'an as hateful, indeed they are, but they are not in Qur'aan. This blog is dedicated to clarify false statements recycled every day about Qur'aan. Finding the truth is your own responsibility -when you remove the ill-will from your heart, it brings freedom, salvation, nirvana, mukti, moksha, nijaat and true liberation.

Now here are the 6 beautiful verses of Quran... Indeed, I am blessed to use this language in dealing with differences.

109:1 SAY: "O you who deny the truth!
Topics discussed in this Verse: [Unbelievers]Qul ya ayyuha alkafiroona
قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ (109:1)
Baset Hussari Minshawi 
My understanding: Addressing those individuals who denied the truth spoken by the Prophet.

109:2 "I do not worship that which you worship,
Topics discussed in this Verse: [Unbelievers]
La aAAbudu ma taAAbudoonaلَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ
109:2 Baset Hussari Minshawi 

109:3 and neither do you worship that which I worship!
[1]وَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ (
Baset Hussari Minshawi 

109:4 "And I will not worship ~hat which you have [ever] worshipped,
Topics discussed in this Verse: [Unbelievers]
Wala ana AAabidun ma AAabadtum
وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَّا عَبَدتُّمْ (109:4)
Baset Hussari Minshawi 

109:5 and neither will you [ever] worship that which I worship. [2]Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Unbelievers]Wala antum AAabidoona ma aAAbuduوَلَا أَنتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ (109:5)
Baset Hussari Minshawi 

109:6 Unto you, your moral law, and unto me, mine !"
[3]Topics discussed in this Verse:
[Islam] [Muhammad:faith of] [Unbelievers]
Lakum deenukum waliya deeniلَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ (109:6) Baset Hussari Minshawi 

Islam is about free will and accountability to keep the harmony of creation intact. If someone compels you to believe, pray, eat or wear, then it is not Islam. Quran is clear many many times - no one bears the burden of others. For societal equilibrium we all agree to do certain things and give up certain things as a part of living and culture.

Please note, this good material for teaching pluralism and civil dialogue.

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Mike Ghouse is a Muslim committed to understand, explore and share the idea of Rabbul Aalameen, the creator, nourisher and sustainer of the Universe, taught to us by the Mercy to mankind who was respectful of others, and whom people trusted for his integrity, honesty, civility and truthfulness. He believes if you follow God's guidance and Prophet's examples, you ought to be Mukhlooqul Aalameen - human being for the goodness of mankind.  More about Mike at www.MikeGhouse.net and www.TheGhouseDiary.com.   

God is on the ropes: The brilliant new science that has creationists and the Christian right terrified

The right wing Christians and Muslims severely oppose evolution, as if understanding it amounts to betrayal of God or the idea itself goes against God. Evolution does not compete with God, it emanates from God or whatever you want to call the causer of this universe and life that we see and imagine.

Those of us who refuse to learn and reject knowledge, should willingly donate their brains to a deserving cow, dog or a horse to communicate better with us. For most people,  beliefs and emotions over rule reason and logic anyway and facts don't matter.

I believe in God and believe in evolution as well, not entirely convinced that humanoids are a consequence of evolution from the amoeba.  

I like these two paragraphs

"Darwin didn’t exclude God, of course, though many creationists seem incapable of grasping this point. But he didn’t require God, either, and that was enough to drive some people mad.

Darwin also didn’t have anything to say about how life got started in the first place — which still leaves a mighty big role for God to play, for those who are so inclined."

 "Creationists often cast themselves as humble servants of God, and paint scientists as arrogant, know-it-all rebels against him. But, unsurprisingly, they’ve got it all backwards, once again. England’s work reminds us that it’s scientists’ willingness to admit our own ignorance and confront it head on — rather than papering over it — that unlocks the great storehouse of wonders we live in and gives us our most challenging, satisfying quests." 

Mike Ghouse

# # #

A young MIT professor is finishing Darwin's task — and threatening to undo everything the wacky right holds dear

God is on the ropes: The brilliant new science that has creationists and the Christian right terrifiedCharles Darwin (Credit: Wikimedia/WDG Photo via Shutterstock/Salon)
The Christian right’s obsessive hatred of Darwin is a wonder to behold, but it could someday be rivaled by the hatred of someone you’ve probably never even heard of. Darwin earned their hatred because he explained the evolution of life in a way that doesn’t require the hand of God. Darwin didn’t exclude God, of course, though many creationists seem incapable of grasping this point. But he didn’t require God, either, and that was enough to drive some people mad.
Darwin also didn’t have anything to say about how life got started in the first place — which still leaves a mighty big role for God to play, for those who are so inclined. But that could be about to change, and things could get a whole lot worse for creationists because of Jeremy England, a young MIT professor who’s proposed a theory, based in thermodynamics, showing that the emergence of life was not accidental, but necessary. “[U]nder certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life,” he was quoted as saying in an article in Quanta magazine early in 2014, that’s since been republished by Scientific American and, more recently, by Business Insider. In essence, he’s saying, life itself evolved out of simpler non-living systems.
The notion of an evolutionary process broader than life itself is not entirely new. Indeed, there’s evidence, recounted by Eric Havelock in “The Liberal Temper in Greek Politics,” that it was held by the pre-Socratic natural philosophers, who also first gave us the concept of the atom, among many other things. But unlike them or other earlier precursors, England has a specific, unifying, testable evolutionary mechanism in mind.
Quanta fleshed things out a bit more like this:
From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.\

It doesn’t mean we should expect life everywhere in the universe — lack of a decent atmosphere or being too far from the sun still makes most of our solar system inhospitable for life with or without England’s perspective. But it does mean that “under certain conditions” where life is possible — as it is here on Earth, obviously — it is also quiteprobable, if not, ultimately, inevitable. Indeed, life on Earth could well have developed multiple times independently of each other, or all at once, or both. The first truly living organism could have had hundreds, perhaps thousands of siblings, all born not from a single physical parent, but from a physical system, literally pregnant with the possibility of producing life. And similar multiple births of life could have happened repeatedly at different points in time.
That also means that Earth-like planets circling other suns would have a much higher likelihood of carrying life as well. We’re fortunate to have substantial oceans as well as an atmosphere — the heat baths referred to above — but England’s theory suggests we could get life with just one of them — and even with much smaller versions, given enough time. Giordano Bruno, who was burnt at the stake for heresy in 1600, was perhaps the first to take Copernicanism to its logical extension, speculating that stars were other suns, circled by other worlds, populated by beings like ourselves. His extreme minority view in his own time now looks better than ever, thanks to England.
If England’s theory works out, it will obviously be an epochal scientific advance. But on a lighter note, it will also be a fitting rebuke to pseudo-scientific creationists, who have long mistakenly claimed that thermodynamics disproves evolution (here, for example), the exact opposite of what England’s work is designed to show — that thermodynamicsdrives evolution, starting even before life itself first appears, with a physics-based logic that applies equally to living and non-living matter.
Most important in this regard is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that in any closed process, there is an increase in the total entropy (roughly speaking, a measure of disorder). The increase in disorder is the opposite of increasing order due to evolution, the creationists reason, ergo — a contradiction! Overlooking the crucial word “closed,” of course. There are various equivalent ways of stating the law, one of which is that energy cannot pass from a cooler to a warmer body without extra work being done. Ginsberg’s theorem (as in poet Allen Ginsberg) puts it like this: “You can’t win. You can’t break even. You can’t even get out of the game.” Although creationists have long mistakenly believed that evolution is a violation of the Second Law, actual scientists have not. For example, physicist Stephen G. Brush, writing for the American Physical Society in 2000, in “Creationism Versus Physical Science,” noted: “As Ludwig Boltzmann noted more than a century ago, thermodynamics correctly interpreted does not just allow Darwinian evolution, it favors it.”
A simple explanation of this comes from a document in the thermodynamics FAQsubsection of TalkOrigins Archive (the  first and foremost online repository of reliable information on the creation/evolution controversy), which in part explains:
Creationists thus misinterpret the 2nd law to say that things invariably progress from order to disorder.
However, they neglect the fact that life is not a closed system. The sun provides more than enough energy to drive things. If a mature tomato plant can have more usable energy than the seed it grew from, why should anyone expect that the next generation of tomatoes can’t have more usable energy still?
That passage goes right to the heart of the matter. Evolution is no more a violation of the Second Law than life itself is. A more extensive, lighthearted, non-technical treatment of the creationist’s misunderstanding and what’s really going on can be found here.
The driving flow of energy — whether from the sun or some other source — can give rise to what are known as dissipative structures, which are self-organized by the process of dissipating the energy that flows through them. Russian-born Belgian physical chemistIlya Prigogine won the 1977 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work developing the concept. All living things are dissipative structures, as are many non-living things as well — cyclones, hurricanes and tornados, for example. Without explicitly using the term “dissipative structures,” the passage above went on to invoke them thus:
Snowflakes, sand dunes, tornadoes, stalactites, graded river beds, and lightning are just a few examples of order coming from disorder in nature; none require an intelligent program to achieve that order. In any nontrivial system with lots of energy flowing through it, you are almost certain to find order arising somewhere in the system. If order from disorder is supposed to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, why is it ubiquitous in nature?
In a very real sense, Prigogine’s work laid the foundations for what England is doing today, which is why it might be overstated to credit England with originating this theory, as several commentators at Quanta pointed out, noting other progenitors as well (here,here and here, among others). But already England appears to have assembled a collection of analytical tools, along with a sophisticated multidisciplinary theoretical approach, which promises to do much more than simply propound a theory, but to generate a whole new research agenda giving detailed meaning to that theoretical conjecture. And that research agenda is already starting to produce results. (See his research group home pagefor more.) It’s the development of this sort of detailed body of specific mutually interrelated results that will distinguish England’s articulation of his theory from other earlier formulations that have not yet been translated into successful theory-testing research agendas.
Above all, as described on the home page mentioned above, England is involved in knitting together the understanding of life and various stages of life-like processes combining the perspectives of biology and physics:
Living things are good at collecting information about their surroundings, and at putting that information to use through the ways they interact with their environment so as to survive and replicate themselves. Thus, talking about biology inevitably leads to talking about decision, purpose, and function.
At the same time, living things are also made of atoms that, in and of themselves, have no particular function. Rather, molecules and the atoms from which they are built exhibit well-defined physical properties having to do with how they bounce off of, stick to, and combine with each other across space and over time.
Making sense of life at the molecular level is all about building a bridge between these two different ways of looking at the world.
If that sounds intriguing, you might enjoy this hour-long presentation of his work (with splashes of local Swedish color) — especially (but not only) if you’re a science nerd.
Whether or not England’s theory proves out in the end, he’s already doing quite a lot to build that bridge between worldviews and inspire others to make similar efforts. Science is not just about making new discoveries, but about seeing the world in new ways — which then makes new discoveries almost inevitable. And England has already succeeded in that.  As the Quanta article explained:
England’s theoretical results are generally considered valid. It is his interpretation — that his formula represents the driving force behind a class of phenomena in nature that includes life — that remains unproven. But already, there are ideas about how to test that interpretation in the lab.
“He’s trying something radically different,” said Mara Prentiss, a professor of physics at Harvard who is contemplating such an experiment after learning about England’s work. “As an organizing lens, I think he has a fabulous idea. Right or wrong, it’s going to be very much worth the investigation.”
Creationists often cast themselves as humble servants of God, and paint scientists as arrogant, know-it-all rebels against him. But, unsurprisingly, they’ve got it all backwards, once again. England’s work reminds us that it’s scientists’ willingness to admit our own ignorance and confront it head on — rather than papering over it — that unlocks the great storehouse of wonders we live in and gives us our most challenging, satisfying quests.
Paul Rosenberg is a California-based writer/activist, senior editor for Random Lengths News, and a columnist for Al Jazeera English. Follow him on Twitter at @PaulHRosenberg.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine Day, Vandalism and Interfaith couples

Valentine's day is a celebration of love, while it is a meaningful day for most people around the world,  it is a day of harassment and vandalism for some in India.  As Indians should we feel embarrassed about it? Of course not! 

The Vandalism side of the story at - https://www.saddahaq.com/humaninterest/valentinesday/vandals-or-valentines-day

Pictures of Interfaith  couples followed by the positive side of the story and links to a few good romantic songs at - An album of interfaith couples will be set with your pictures of those couples who did not convert the one or the other. to their religious tradition. More about it at:  http://interfaithmarriages.blogspot.com/2015/02/future-of-valentines-day.html
King Akbar Married Jodabai - they remained Muslim and Hindu


If you are an interfaith couple and would like to share a picture, I will create an album for the same. Need to have it by 2/15 to be a part of the Album.

 Future of Valentine's day after the pictures:
Throughout the history of language, words have taken on new and expanded meanings; Valentine's Day is no exception.
From an exclusive meaningful rendezvous between two lovers, the Valentine's Day will morph into an all-inclusive romantic day. It will become a universal affection day within a decade.
Valentine’s Day is a universal expression of affection between two individuals. Love has no bounds; it is between two people in love, husband and wife, mother and son, father daughter, brother sister, brothers, sisters, friends, uncles, aunties, Grandpa and Grandma and any one you care about.
Please feel free to say happy valentine to your sister, mother, brother, daughter, dad, uncle or a friend. It is a much bigger word now than it started out to be. Take them out for dinner and send them flowers to let them know that you care if you are the only one for them at this point in life.
While we express it by presenting red roses to our loved ones, the Filipinos will break another record; the number of people kissing at the same time, Brazil will have another major festival on her beaches celebrating love. You are welcome to share other such expressions. Now there is a selfie competition going as well.
On the other side of the world, a few frustrated ones with life go to the other end. The right wingers among orthodox Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and others will start giving religious tones to it instead of going to their place of worship and seeking God's love.
Sadly, some of you are going to feel lonely, if you miss the love in your life; you have an opportunity to fulfill it. There is plenty in you that you can give by feeding the homeless, visiting lonely patients in the hospitals or nursing homes, disadvantage women and children, our veterans... share whatever little you have with them including the time and just listening to them. When a homeless person asks, give whatever you can, that is the most affectionate thing to do, you will enrich yourselves far greater by sharing.
Whenever the word affection comes to mind, I picture my dad and recall the way he called out my Mother's name Khairun, it was filled with affection and I have always enjoyed the sound of that, it was simply soothing to hear.
I dedicate these three songs to people in love.  
Kenny Roger's, you decorated my life: I particularly like the line which says, there is no rhyme or reason that is what love is all about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJkPFSt326c
Ronnie Millsap’s, what a difference you made in my life, 
Muhammad Rafi's ai Husn Zara Jaag in Urdu/ Hindi, 
and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's, aap say mil kay in Urdu/Hindi
My expressions would be incomplete without honoring the poet of love, Mirza Ghalib, one of the greatest romantic poets of all time who composed his poetry in Urdu/Hindi and Farsi.
Ishk per zor nahin, hai a o aatish ghalib
Ke lagaye na lege, bujhaye no bujhe.
Affection is that flame dear ole Ghalib,
it cannot be lit or extinguished,  it just happens.
If we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Be good to your fellow beings. 

Happy Valentine's Day 

Thank you


Mike Ghouse

(214) 325-1916 text/talk
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is a staunch defender of human rights and his book standing up for others will be out soon, and a movie "Americans together" is in the making.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are atwww.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.