Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Genesis of Sharia law

Originally Published in July 2010 at Huffington Post with the Title, Sharia Laws, not in America
URL - http://sharialaws.blogspot.com/2013/02/genesis-of-sharia-law.html

P R E A M B L E

Whether you are a theist, atheist or an agnostic, you may see the element of balance embedded in every aspect of creation be it matter, life or environment.  The earth rotates on its own imaginary axis and circles the sun with precision, and so do the other planets in the universe. When it comes to seasons it appears that, they are programmed to be within a range of prediction. No matter where you sow the tiny seed of wheat, the process is predetermined as to what happens to that seed, so is the human body, one wrong food can mess up that balance. Everything about the nature is balance, precision and harmony.

What does the process (God) that created matter and life want? I believe it wants us to maintain that balance and harmony for our continued existence, it’s our freedom and ability to tune ourselves and our environment to constantly maintain that balance that gives us life. 

What does God really want? Like a mother who wants her kids to do well; like the teacher who wants his students to score A’s, like a chef who wants all her patrons to enjoy her food, like the maker of iPhone who wants all its customers to enjoy the phone to its max benefit, God wants all his creation (life, matter and environment) to function effectively and in harmony and cohesion as he has created. That can be called God’s will and subscribing to that thought can be called submission (Quran), surrender (Bhagvad Gita) or follow (Bible) the creator.


Ever since our conscious life began, there have been a number of individuals from among us, who have worked hard to keep God’s will. The purpose of every religious or non-religious leader was create such societies where no one had to live in fear of the other, or no one was to be pushed out of harmony.

Religion is a beautiful instrument with a purpose to maintain the social cohesiveness among the inhabitants, a majority of people get that right, a few don’t, and those who don’t,  don’t realize that they are working against the balance without being aware of it.

Justice is the one word that wraps God, balance, harmony and cohesion together and that is the foundation of all societies, without justice, things go awry and if not checked, they will degenerate from there. Krishna had mentioned whenever there is adharma (righteousness turned upside down), some one will appear from among us to fix it.


S H A R I A

Each society, civil or religious has its own code of conduct that it operates on. Islam is no different. Sharia in its simplest form is a how-to-serve-justice manual based on the Qur'an and the Hadith (Prophet Muhammad's sayings and life examples). Indeed, it is a human effort to understand the concept of justice enshrined in Qur'an for the day-to-day living. Sharia like all other human laws, including the laws of the United States has its own shortcomings when it comes to just applications of the law. However, the world has evolved* but Sharia has a few frozen lakes.

American Muslims have placed their trust in the American justice system and will continue to oppose the kind of Sharia "that is prevalent in a handful of Muslim majority nations across the globe". The right wingers are duping Americans to believe that Muslims want that kind of Sharia law here in America, they are wrong, no Muslim organization in America has asked for it, none.  I will be one of the first ones, if not the first one, to stand up against Sharia for public, however, I support Sharia for personal use of people to square off their conflicts. We are Americans and the law of the land is our law. There is no substitute for it.


G E N E S I S  O F  S H A R I A 

After the death of Prophet Muhammad and the first four 'rightly guided' Caliphs,  the new community was grappling with the unique issues and were battling within to ensure that no one is denied justice. The desire to be absolutely just was overwhelming..


Allah commands justice and good conduct [Quran 16:90; 4:58]. You should stand firm in justice, even if it goes against yourselves or parents and relatives. Follow not your personal inclinations, lest you not be just [4:135, 6:152]. And do not let the hatred of someone prevent you from being just towards him [5:8]. You should do justice in all circumstances without any bias, discrimination or prejudice whether the outcome goes against you or your loved ones, or in favor of your rivals. 


Each issue was different and the decisions were customized to one's situations, it required a full time judge to study the books thoroughly before a recommendation was made. The scholars of the time were challenged to cut down the margin of error in such decisions by standardizing the process to render judgments on a daily basis to meet the growing demand for justice.
  
The scholars of the time met the challenge and created a body of knowledge as supplementary guidance and established the standards of moral conduct. Sharia laws were designed to be free from misapplications and regret-free decision-making processes.

P E R S O N A L  A N D  P U B L I C  S H A R I A 
From a layperson's point of view, Sharia is divided into a personal and a public function. The personal Sharia is about the relationship between an individual and the creator, whereas the public Sharia is about the relationship between the individual and the society.

The personal Sharia deals with beneficial actions that should be performed by individuals, such as prayers, fasting, pilgrimage, Hajj, and Zakat (tithe, or charity). It is indeed a guide for individual Muslims to observe and follow their faith.

The public Sharia deals with the community affairs involving more than one individual, such as marriage, divorce,  adultery, theft, conversion, apostates and inheritance.

The intent of the Sharia laws was to construct a complete justice system with fairness to all members of society. Peace and a sense of security are the products of justice in a given society. The violations of justice and the rule of law are found in every faith, culture and political system, to varying degrees. In this respect no community is free of blame and no one can cast the first stone against another community.

However, like all laws, the Sharia for public application needs a serious revision to reflect the changing needs of society. The values enshrined in the Qur'an are dynamic, and because Sharia laws are derived from the Qur'an, they must reflect the dynamic applicability of the book. In modern times, the contentious issues that have most often recurred stem from treatment of divorce, women's rights, inheritance, theft, adultery and apostasy.

Even here in America, laws originally framed with the intention of ensuring liberty and justice for all were misapplied for over a century after they were written, resulting in a serious denial of rights to women and slaves. It is only in the last 75 years that we are tuning ourselves to the intent of our constitution. A woman is no longer considered a chattel, and slavery has become an outlawed practice. As of right now the rights of individuals with different sexual orientations are at the center of the debates as much as accepting a woman president in our country. In terms of capital punishment we are still evolving; we are behind Europe and we remain as antiquated as Saudi Arabia in putting people to death.

But even as we speak today there is yet another speculative issue that has been brought up: the issue of application of Sharia laws here in our country. This contentious debate is largely a product of the right-wing media and many a fearful neoconservatives. As an American Muslim who has  traveled throughout this country, I can strongly affirm that no group of American Muslims has called for the application of Sharia laws in America. Although a few individuals may have expressed their support for compliance with the laws here in our country, they have nevertheless remained avid supporters of the laws and freedoms of the United States.

S H A R I A  I N D U S T R Y
 

The Sharia industry has been built with strong fortifications, to the point that many Muslims are led to believe that Sharia law is divine. In this way the application of Sharia throughout history can be comparable to the business protection plans used by defense, tax preparers and other industries, where the involved matters are made so complicated that they are needed by the society.

The brouhaha about Sharia Law by many a congressman and lelegislators is really ridiculous, these legislators who are introducing the bills in different states to ban Sharia laws are as neanderthalic as some of the Talibans.  Hear me out, if you and your spouse file for divorce, the judge will not bang his gavel and say, its done. Efforts will be made for you to find reconciliation and alternate services such as arbitration, psychological counseling and pastoral counseling,  hoping you may find the magical moment to reconcile. Add to that Rabbinical counseling where the Rabbi counsels the Jewish couple to bring them back together,  so Muslims are asking an option of having a Imam counseling. What the hell is wrong with that? Enough is written about it on the right pane of this site. 


Islam teaches each individual to be accountable for his or her actions. We do not need a Sharia industry, and Islam certainly does not have clerical establishment built into it, nor is there a need for one.

We can retain the private Sharia and let go of the public Sharia; the civil laws of our nation provide ample justice, and we don't need a duplicate system. Sharia law was never considered divine to begin with. Hence, there is no need to even dream about it.

A M E R I C A N  M U S L I  M S

American Muslims have placed their trust in the American justice system and will continue to oppose Sharia laws as they are currently applied in many places across the globe. I will be one of the first ones, if not the first one, to stand up against it. The Muslim majority in America is happy with the American system and does not want to have Sharia law here in America.


On the Hannity Show on Fox News, I have challenged the likes of Geller, Spencer and others to show an American Muslim Organization that wants to impose it on Americans, its merely a hype, they cannot substantiate it. This may be bad news for the likes of Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer,  Bridgette Gabriel, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, John Hagee and a host of other right-wingers, who thrive on selling hate and painting chaotic scenarios. It will hurt their sales and affect their cash flow. They cannot dupe Americans with unsubstantiated and statistically insignificant claims. Americans are trained to see another point of view and to be non-judgmental.

However, I urge the passionate neocons to become ambassadors of peace in mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. It will not make them as much money, but they will be able to sleep in peace. We all need to work for a safe and prosperous America with a focus on social cohesion and removing the division and wedges between us.

As a Muslim I stand against Sharia for public consumption, but allow for personal use for people to square their conflicts. We are Americans and the law of the land is our law. There is no substitute for it. 


Please note that almost every paragraph is based on verses from Quran, but I am not quoting them here, as it is written for the general audience and from a common sense point of view.  However, when I give a talk to Muslims, I will quote them.

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 a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.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 his work through many links.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Warning to Terrorists - the BIG red poster

CLICK ON THE RED POSTER TO VIEW IN FULL SIZE
The acronyms SOB, AH, BS and others are certainly uncouth, but they effectively communicate a purposeful message, hence I made that choice.  The Warning poster to Terrorist is a double edged sword and is at the bottom - the big red poster.

The following comments have been received against the poster below.

  1. sometimes your brain goes on strike I guess”,
  2. “Don’t jeopardize”
  3. “Who gave you the authority to represent Muslims?”
  4.  “Not appropriate and safe for you in today's hostile environment.”
  5.  “this is a mindless drivel”
  6. “You are not qualified to speak for Islam”
  7.  “Do you think your severe warning will have any darn effect on these fanatics”
  8. I second it”
  9. “it is appropriate response”.

In a learning environment, good thoughts and concrete ideas are developed with criticism and feedback; here is why this kind of response is needed. 

  1. Don't bark at the religion for the acts of bad guys. Punishment is set for bad acts, to restore the trust in a given society. When a Rapist is running around in a neighborhood, everyone is apprehensive, but when the guy is caught and nailed, peace of mind is restored in the neighborhood. Instead of catching the guy, if we blame his raising, his family, his religion, his race or nation, and his imam, rabbi, pastor or pundit – we will not restore peace. I intend to aggressively communicate this idea, the right idea, and intend to speak at various law enforcement agencies as well as religious institutions.  
  2. The criminal ought to know that he will be punished; we will not allow the poor alibi of religion, not at all. The Law enforcement and the media people also need to get this in their heads, the purpose of investigations and chasing the bad guys is to restore trust and not to aggravate by barking at a non-entity like Religion. The more you bark at criminal’s religion, race or ethnicity, the worse it gets. You cannot shoot, kill, hang, beat or bury the religion, then why bark at it?

  3. 72 Virgins are promised. Both the terrorists and the communicators of the problem (Media and Politicians) to the world at large have gotten it wrong. The poor guy needs to be outraged at the recruiters that he was duped, and there are no 72 virgins waiting for him, instead the SOB will rot in Jail if we Americans get him, or killed mercilessly if he is caught by the opposite party. No Geneva conventions will be observed by either the terrorist or his chasers.  The Media needs to stop the BS of propagating the falsity with nothing to back up in the Qur'an.

  4. Both the criminal and the law enforcement (coupled with the media and politicians) must be aware that it is the Sin, and not the sinner we are after. The clarity should prevent us from being unjust.  We should not be abusive in disciplining or punishing the wrong doer. As a civil society, we cannot become the very evil we want to eradicate.
     
  5. We should seek the criminal to lead us to the source of recruiting material and the recruiters by mitigating his punishment. 
  6. The Challenge to “read the right translation/interpretation” of Qur'an applies to both the criminal and the law enforcement. I am certain, the criminal will become a genuine repenter, and the law enforcement will not buy or propagate the dished out non-sense in the market or bark irrelevantly.


This is the right time to forge peace to the society in general, and American society in particular by boldly and loudly getting people to get the message, and i.e.,


I am being assertive, never has any Muslim or other communicated this so clearly and it is time we do that, thank God for the opportunities he has blessed us with to find solutions.   If I don't, no one will speak, and I sincerely hope many of us to speak up, do it on your own or join me.


It is time we separate the evil from good.

Bottom line is to free Islam and Muslims from the stupid stereotyping, and focus on punishing the bad guys and restoring trust in the society. 
 
 -----------------------------------------------------------------------

You SOB, you are the damned murderer, you messed up the peace, and your ass will nailed big time.

Don’t give me the BS about your job, childhood, parents, kids, siblings, spouse, imam, rabbi, pastor or the pundit. You did it and you'll pay for it.


I am not stupid to buy in your argument that your religion made you do that, and then bark at the religion endlessly. AH, you are the bad guy and you are going to pay for it. I am here to restore justice in the society and not be detracted and scream at your religion like a stupid ass. I can hang you, shoot you, bury you and beat you up to restore justice and trust in the society, and that is my goal

 Note: Mr. Terrorist, I don't condemn you, it is your sin I condemn. If you claim to be a Muslim, just remember, those guys who recruited you, and cheated you with  false promises of Hoories and virgins in paradise were dead wrong. There is no such thing nor is it mentioned in Qur'an, instead you will rot in jail for life. Would you turn in your recruiters for cheating you? Would you read the correct translations of Qur'an, we might minimize your sentence?

This should be the attitude of Law enforcement
Authorized by Mike Ghouse, World Muslim Congress.


Thank you

 

Mike Ghouse

(214) 325-1916 text/talk
www.WorldMuslimCongress.com 
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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 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 several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Khushali Mubarak - A celebration of 57 years of Imamat (religious leadership) of His Highness, the Aga Khan.

Khushali Mubarak | Historic Iftar by Mayor Rawlings and Rupanis
URL- http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2014/07/khushali-mubarak-celebration-of-57.html




HH Aga Khan is ceremoniously addressed as, “Mawlana Hazar Imam Shah Karim al Hussaini, His Highness Prince Aga Khan” by the Ismaili Muslims around the world.  The Imamat was passed on to him by his Grandfather Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan III on July 11, 1957.  HH Aga Khan is the 49th Imam of the religious office of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim Community, also known as Ismaili Muslims.   Per the Ismaili Muslim tradition, HH Aga Khan, is a direct lineal descendent of Prophet (pbuh) through Hazrat Ali (RA) and Hazrat Fatima (RA).

As a Muslim Pluralist myself, I have come to admire HH Aga Khan for reviving  a few of the core values of Islam; Pluralism,  and the 2nd most important value called - Huqooqul Ibad -  the obligatory duties to fellow beings.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Hazrat Ali (ra) had continuously advocated living in moderation; it’s a mid path between the worldly and spiritual needs. The Aga Khan has fine tuned that balance between material and spiritual life.

He performs his religious duties by interpreting Qur'an to his 15 million plus followers spread out across the world, fulfilling his role as the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslim community.

In his speech to the Parliament of Canada on February 27, 2014, he explains the Shia-Sunni and Ismaili tradition, The Ismaili Imamat is a supra-national entity, representing the succession of Imams since the time of the Prophet. But let me clarify something more about the history of that role, in both the Sunni and Shia interpretations of the Muslim faith. The Sunni position is that the Prophet nominated no successor, and that spiritual-moral authority belongs to those who are learned in matters of religious law. As a result, there are many Sunni imams in a given time and place. But others believed that the Prophet had designated his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, as his successor. From that early division, a host of further distinctions grew up — but the question of rightful leadership remains central. In time, the Shia were also sub-divided over this question, so that today the Ismailis are the only Shia community who, throughout history, have been led by a living, hereditary Imam in direct descent from the Prophet. “
 
On the other hand he is guiding the community to prosperity and living a responsible life in the societies they live.

He founded the Aga Khan Development Network that is committed to serving the humanity without regard to faith, origin or gender. I believe AKDN is one of the largest Non Governmental bodies serving humanity to learn to stand on their own feet.

Every child, teen and an adult has someone he or she looks up to, and wants to-be-like that person and eventually becomes one.  Good role models are a key to the success of a civil society, and indeed, HH Aga Khan is a great role model for Muslims to look up to.

In gratitude for his continued guidance, the Ismaili Muslims celebrate this week honoring him and reaffirming his leadership with a renewed commitment to serving the humanity.

Pluralism

Islam is about restoring and sustaining the harmony within an individual and with what surrounds him; life and environment. From the very first sentence of the first chapter, and the last chapter and throughout Qur'an, God is “
Sustainer of all the worlds” (1:2) and “Cherisher of Mankind” (114:1) – The message is universal and inclusive of humanity and not a particular group of people.

At present, he is one of the few Muslims in the world who has truly understood the pluralistic message of Quran.  He firmly believes in pluralism and has opened an institution to propagate those ideals. Please visit the Global Center for
Pluralism in Canada.  At the Foundation for Pluralism, we have crystallized the definition of pluralism as “Respecting the otherness of others” based on many verses from Qur'an, but particularly verse 109:6 translation by Yusuf Ali, “To you be your Way, and to me mine.”

Aga Khan delivered the following statement at the Inauguration Ceremony of Aga Khan University in Karachi on November 11, 1985,
"The divine intellect Aql-i Kull, both transcends and informs the human intellect. It is this intellect which enables man to strive towards two aims dedicated by the Faith: that he should reflect upon the environment Allah has given and that he should know himself. It is the light of intellect which distinguishes the complete human being from the human animal and developing that intellect requires free enquiry. The man of Faith who fails to pursue intellectual search is likely to have only a limited comprehension of Allah’s creation. Indeed, it is man’s intellect that enables him to expand his vision of that creation.”

Huqooqul Ibad | Caring for fellow beings

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said the best among you is the one who sees to it that his neighbor is fed and cared for. Imam Hazrat Ali (ra), the 4th rightly guided Caliph after Prophet Muhammad in providing the leadership to the Muslim community says, "The best man is he who is most serviceable to fellow humans."
There are over 18 verses in Qur'an where God consistently talks about taking care of fellow humans. Indeed the Prophet (pbuh) expressed it in so many different ways to high light the duty to fellow beings. He he said, that an irreligious guy who takes care of his neighbor earns God's grace over a guy who is relentlessly praying.  

Ismaili Muslims participate and contribute in building relationships

Indeed, the beneficence of Aga Khan’s Pluralism discourse can be witnessed everywhere in the world including in Dallas, Texas. 

Arman Rupani and his father Mr. Amir Ali Rupani, a respected philanthropist of Dallas, set in motion a historic event;  Iftar Dinner with  Hon. Mayor Mike Rawlings of City of Dallas. This is the first public Iftar event in Dallas area hosted by the City for its Muslim residents. 

Mayor Rawlings, Arman Rupani, Amir Rupani, Dy Mayor Pro Tem Alonzo
Click to see larger version of the picture | Photo courtesy - http://www.surajart.com/

The Mayor delivered an amazing key note address; he was all for building relations with each community in the City. He said, there are about 120,000 Muslims in the area and around 40,000 of them reside in the City of Dallas. He was excited to initiate this tradition and expects it to continue every year.  By the way, his praise for Arman was touching, and the words he had for Amir Rupani for raising a public service son made every one pause and praise this father son duo.  

Thanks to Arman Rupani, Amir Ali Rupani and Akram Syed for co-hosting the event, and building relationships between the Mayor’s office and the Muslims of Dallas.

The honored guests included;
Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Monica R. Alonzo of Dallas, former Mayor Dr. Arjumad Hashmi of Paris, Texas, Council Member Dr. Shahid Shafi of South Lake and most of the Imams of Shia and Sunni traditions,  and some of the most active Muslims of Dallas Fort Worth.

Purpose of Religion



The purpose of every religion and the work of every prophet, messenger or peacemaker was to build cohesive societies, where no human had to live in apprehension or fear of the other. Indeed the ultimate goal of Islam as I understand is to bring harmony and peace to the societies achieved by knowing each other and building relationships.
Indeed God has created us into different tribes, communities and nations (Quran 49:13). It was indeed his choice to create each one of us to be unique with our own thumbprint, eye print, DNA, color and taste buds. Yet, the whole creation was put together in perfect balance and harmony (Q55:7); Planets and plants were programmed to operate with precision (Q55:5) year after year, and humans were given the free will with a responsibility to maintain that balance for their own good or perish like the earlier species through climate changes or conflicts.
God knew such diversity is bound to create conflict and mess up the delicate balance, so he encourages us in the same verse 49:13, that the best among you are the ones who know each other. Indeed, knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of the God given uniqueness of each one of us, and with that conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
One shining example that stands out is His Highness Aga Khan, who has struck a perfect balance between the life here, and life hereafter.We wish a very happy Imamat day and Khushali to the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and blessing of long life to the Hazar Imam HH Karim Aga Khan. Amen!

This writer was a former commissioner at City of Carrollton.
Ramadan Related Articles:

American Muslim Agenda-I at Huffington Post:  
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/american-muslim-agenda-a-_b_5528706.html 

American Muslim Agenda-II at World Muslim Congress:
http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2014/07/july-4th-celebrations-muslims-and.html

Ramadan’s Pluralism Message at Ramadan Exclusive:
http://ramadanexclusive.blogspot.com/2014/06/ramadans-pluralism-message-intrafaith.html

Ramadan’s spiritual Discipline at faith Street:
http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2009/08/21/ramadans-spiritual-discipline/8124
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Mike Ghouse is a
speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism,Peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, cohesive work place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com and www.MikeGhouse.net 

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4th Celebrations, Muslims and Ramadan. American Muslim Agenda, a new beginning for Muslim Americans

Let this 4th day of July 2014 be a historic beginning for Muslim Americans.
http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2014-07-02-July4th.AmericaTogetherFoundation.com3.jpgMany of you may not know this, but upon Declaration of our Independence on July 4, 1776, two of the first three heads of states who recognized the sovereignty of the United States were Muslim.

Despite a few, who have painted Muslims in a negative light for their own gains; Muslims have always been well wishers of America and will continue to do that. The Journey began with the birth of our nation, and I am pleased to make a recommendation to my fellow Muslims to take this relationship further deeper.
What will I do on July 4th? 2nd of 3 articles on American Muslim Agenda
( to be published at  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/ )

Continued:

Let this 4th day of July 2014 be a historic beginning for Muslim Americans
It is time for Muslims to set their agenda, and develop short and long term plans. We have to debate, discuss and work on developing a final agenda that is good for the Muslims and good for fellow Americans. Here is a 3 part series of initiating such agenda. 
In the first part of the series at Huffington Post, we shared;
1. What does it take to be the Amins “trust keepers” of our society?
2. Why should we stand up for the rights of others? 
3. No American should live in apprehension or fear of the other.
It is at - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/american-muslim-agenda-a-_b_5528706.html 
Now, we will address the need for engagement with the society, July 4th, and the others celebrations and commemorations.
July 4th and Muslims
Many of you may not know this, but upon Declaration of our Independence on July 4, 1776, two of the first three heads of states who recognized the sovereignty of the United States were Muslim. 
Morocco was the first state and signed the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship; first of its kind. Friesland, one of the seven United Provinces of the Dutch Republic was the next, and Tippu Sultan, the King of Mysore State (India) was the third. According to Dr. Range Gowda, Tippu Sultan’s historiographer, the congratulatory letter to America is preserved in a French Library.
Despite a few, who have painted Muslims in a negative light for their own gains; Muslims have always been well wishers of America and will continue to do that. The Journey began with the birth of our nation, and I am pleased to make a recommendation to my fellow Muslims to take this relationship further deeper.
Muslim Americans reaching out to every American.
Let’s take a conservative number of 3, 150,000 Muslims in America, even though a 6-7 millions figure is thrown without any substantiation. This number is roughly 1% of the American Population – one out of 100 Americans is a Muslim.
If each Muslim sends 100 invitations to fellow Americans to join him or her for a grilled Hot Dog, Hamburger or Barbeque at the backyard, public park or a Mosque parking lot with appropriate permissions, about five to seven neighbors may show up, and it may not cost more than $25.00 to serve them. If this is done consistently, in about 10 years, most of Americans would know each other as fellow celebrators of the festivity together. This is not the responsibility of Muslims alone; all of us have to learn about each other to be good neighbors.
Do you know what Quran says about it? In 49:13 God says, he has created mankind into many tribes, communities, nations and people, and he fully understands that conflicts are bound to happen with such diversity, and then he says, the best ones among you are the ones who get to know each other. Indeed, knowledge leads to understanding, and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of the other and when that happens, conflicts fade and solutions emerge. This is how we create safe societies for our children.
Caution: No matter how tempting it is to flaunt your religiosity, religion is your personal belief. Please do not discuss religion and politics with your guests. it will ruin the relationship – get to know your neighbors as folks with common interests. No matter how smart you are, the moment you suggest your religion is superior in any form shape or innuendos; you will be causing conflict off the bat, and that is not friendship. You don’t tell your friend that your wife is more beautiful than his or your husband is more handsome than her husband.
Be a caring neighbor and be there for them in their celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, funerals and other commemorations, after all they are your neighbors. 
This is the month of Ramadan, and celebration of July 4th should be a joy while fasting, indeed your personal faith becomes stronger when you let your will power gain control over temptations, fasting is not about being hungry, it is about the sacrifice you make for the sake of God and the common Good. More about it at www.RamadanExclusive.com
This Ramadan, you do not have the time to send the invitations, but have the time knock on ten doors on your street and invite people to hot dogs at your place. Do the invitations next year.
Happy July 4th – if you are driving, carry a lot of water bottles and stop and share some with the stranded ones on the road. What Muslims need most is a lot of Goodwill.
What does engagement mean to Muslims?
It simply means you are invited to your neighbor’s birthday party, Mayor’s inauguration, a political rally of the party you belong to, an interfaith prayer, neighborhood watch meeting, a town hall meeting, celebration of Independence Day, veterans’ day parade, Christmas party, Passover gathering, Diwali, Chinese New year, (Iftar parties) and other community based activities.
If you are not invited, it is not because you are a Hindu, Muslim, Chinese, African American, Arab, Latino, or the other, but precisely because no one knows about you. You have never been a part of any group, other than your own.
Over the years, I have watched with admiration the efforts made by the City and community service organizations to reach out and include all minorities, but sadly, a handful of us respond to it, it’s not only Muslims, the story is same with all minorities.
A few will make an effort and serve on a committee, but drop out quickly because they did not see the fruit on the very same day they planted the seed. Everything takes time, nurturing and development of relationships. The sense of belonging it generates is priceless. You feel confident of your being and your place in the society.
Each one of us rises from the basic level of taking care of the needs of our families to self-fulfillment. We want to give it back to the community and we want to volunteer. Indeed we can contribute towards the overall betterment of the community we live in by engaging with the people.
The power of engagement.
On the individual level, I have been able to diffuse many possible conflicts simply by engaging with people. One such example happened in 2007, there was a rumor that Muslims in France have pushed the Government to ban Holocaust Studies, this rumor was designed to humiliate Muslims. Thanks to Maria Arita at Fox News, she called me up to find out my take. What did I do? I asked her to give me three hours and called my friend late Elliot Dlin, director of Dallas Holocaust Museum, he verified that to be untrue and thanks to Maria, the rumor stopped right there.
On a national level, engaging with Sean Hannity at Fox News has produced significant results for the common good of America, and Muslims. If someone knows you, and you have earned his or her respect over a period of time, going through the full cycle of humiliation, acceptance and appreciation, then he accommodates you.
Thanks to Sean Hannity, he has clarified his position time and again with me that he is not against Muslims or Islam, but against the radical elements. That he will consciously use the term ‘Radicals among Muslim’ instead of ‘Radical Muslims’ was a significant rational improvement and I am glad to be an instrument in that development. I was advised against engaging with Hannity and have been screamed at and ridiculed as well, it would have been easy for me to run from the double edged sword, but I chose to stick with it, as I believe in engagement has its own miracles of mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. Mahatma Gandhi had suggested if you want to see good beneficial changes in the society, be a part of it. More about Hannity at: http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2014/06/youre-dangerous-sparks-fly-between.html
On the flip side of the engagement, Huffington Post stands out as a great example of active engagement. No other newspaper had bothered to deal with the minorities, as the coverage was not profitable for them. Huffpost paved the way; they believed that engagement with different Americans was necessary in moving the nation forward. What is good for America eventually became good for them. Today, I am glad to be a part of Huffington Post’s guest writers, and I am glad it is a profitable business.
Engagement works both ways.
http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2014-07-02-AmericanMuslimAgendaCopy.jpgThere are innumerable situations where getting engaged with the “other” causes the “other” to join and become “together’, and together as Americans we can achieve a lot, one among them is freedom from tensions about each other.

In the next installment, we will be talking about Engagement, Pluralism, Volunteerism and participation. 
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Mike Ghouse is a Muslim speaker, thinker and a writer, and presides over the World Muslim congress, a think tank, and a forum with the express goals of nurturing pluralistic values embedded in Islam to build cohesive societies.

American Muslim Agenda, a new beginning for Muslim Americans on this 4th day of July

American Muslim Agenda, a new beginning for Muslim Americans on this 4th day of July - 1 of 3
Let this 4th day of July 2014 be a historic beginning for American Muslims, where they will put together a clear agenda to participate and contribute towards the well being of America.

God created an integrated and interconnected world in harmony and balance, and all he wants from us is to maintain that balance. That is simply the God’s will.
The World Muslim Congress, a twelve year old think tank, has worked on presenting an “initial agenda” for Muslims in America based on Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) guidance. We hope this will spur debates, followed by discussions and emergence of a Muslim agenda within the framework of American Agenda.
Due to the length of the plan, it is presented in 3 installments.