Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ramadan Mubarak - Reflections on Celebrations

A few Ramadan questions are answered here; why do we celebrate on different days? What is it with the Moon? How do you greet Muslims on this day? What kind of culinary delights are out there? How do Muslims celebrate in different parts of the world? Ramadan TV Commercials?  A bit of politics too and lots of Eid Mubarak symbols at the link.
I urge Muslims around the world to take a minute to stop and appreciate the men and women who serve our nation, the armed forces, national guard,  police, firefighters and others who are out there to guard our freedom and secure the safety of individuals and families. I have done this time and again, and I always remember the Louisville experience, where the police officer asked me to forward the email to him, asking Muslims to appreciate them, and after the Eid prayers, he had forwarded it to many police officers.
I urge Muslim organizations to issue a press release to this effect, and this is our appeal from the World Muslim Congress, a think tank committed to building a cohesive America. WMC is a part of the Center for Pluralism.
Pluralism is alive and kicking in Islam – i.e., respecting the otherness of others! Indeed, there are many schools of thought, and the good clergymen always point out the different traditions, Dr. Imam Kavakci, one of the leading Muslim Scholars, always advised on that basis. It is up to the individual to follow what he or she is conditioned or comfortable with. The non-pluralistic Muslims resort to name calling the others who take a different path. But all of them celebrate the festival.
A month-long fasting should clean up our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls, it means we are not biased towards anyone, we have no wall between us and another human, and that we are committed to peace and harmony. What others do to you does not matter, but how you behave towards others is all that matters in making America great again. All of us need to live without apprehension regardless of what we believe, wear, look and talk, and this is the work of Center for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress.
By the way, I am an independent, and not a Republican or a Democrat and I am a Pluralist Muslim, like a majority of Muslims – i.e., respecting the otherness of others, and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of his beautiful creation.
Mike Ghouse
When is the Eid? Ramadan Celebrations?  Is it Friday, Saturday or even Sunday? For some, it will depend on when the moon (first day) is sighted.
Pluralism is alive and kicking in Islam – i.e, respecting the otherness of others! Indeed, there are many schools of thought, and the good clergymen always point out the different traditions, Dr. Imam Kavakci always advised on that basis.  It is up to the individual to follow what he or she is conditioned or comfortable with.  The non-pluralistic Muslims resort to name calling the others who take a different path. But all of them celebrate the festival.
Since the beginning of Islam, there have been debates as to what constitutes moon sighting. Some interpret that there has got to be a minion to declare that they have seen it themselves with their own eyes, while others do not accept it unless they have seen it themselves. It is also acceptable if the moon is sighted elsewhere, but now, each group has to have their own moon sighting. In the United States, there is an organization that monitors moon sighting and announces it in advance. Over the millennium we learned to accept and respect the otherness of other.
Politics plays a crucial role in our Temples, Synagogues or Churches, Mosques are no different. A few scientifically-inclined-Muslims have adopted NASA’s calculations believed to be precise. However, four different traditions are operating concurrently; i) Strictly Calendar, ii) NASA  iii) Sighting with bare eyes and iv) sighting by others in the community.
The NASA-oriented and the Calendar-group miss out the fun, joy, and exhilaration of waiting and watching the needle thin moon on the horizon. The whole family gets out on the rooftops, or higher grounds, some even climb electric poles, and a few will drive out where they can see the sky without obstacles, kids would climb on parent’s shoulders, and a few go from place to place shouting in excitement, did you see it? It is like the belief in Santa Claus, Angels, and other myths, each tradition fulfills one’s emotional needs and every one becomes sentimental. After all, if celebration does not have the excitement, it is not a celebration.
America’s spirit of freedom touches every soul, no matter what religion or tradition they follow. American Muslims are no different, they prefer to have a pre-set date to start fasting and the celebration called “Eid” pronounced as Eeed as in Eeel. The idea is for them to take a day off from work or get an optional day off for their children from the schools. Always, the joy multiplies when the family and friends celebrate it together. They prefer to start on a pre-set date and trust the calculations.
The conflicts are the same everywhere on the earth. Each group subscribes to one of the four systems mentioned above. America is no different; you will find celebrations on one or three different days in any given city, the Sunnis, being the largest group has the greater division within, while the Sufis, Shias, Ismailis, WD Mohammad, Bohra and Ahmadiyya follow the pre-determined dates.
The consensus may be attributable to having central spiritual leadership in all groups except the Sunni. However like the American Public wishes to see the Republicans and Democrats drop the party lines and focus on what is good for America, the Muslims also wish they could celebrate the Eid on one single day. It ain’t going to happen, it is human to differ. It is against the spirit of Ramadan to denigrate, diminish and devalue other practices.
The essence of Ramadan is to become humble, simple and free from ill-will, anger, meanness, and hate. Let’s fill our hearts with goodwill and honor Ramadan by saying “Eid Mubarak” or Happy Eid to everyone who celebrates on a different day in the same town. The essence of Ramadan is joy and let’s not prick the bubble; God has not signed a pact with anyone behind other’s back to favor one and disfavor the other.  Let’s allow God to be an honest God who is just, kind, merciful and loving as Quran says. Let’s rejoice the differences of interpretations. If you want to celebrate every day, go to every celebration.
In the spirit of Ramadan, I pray that Ramadan gets into our hearts and minds and make us embrace all factions of Muslims without undermining their tradition and further pray that we treat every human on the earth with dignity, respect, and care.

Conflicts within

The Shia-Sunni conflict we see in Iraq is new to both groups of Muslims, conflicts have always been there. The violence in conflict is new and took birth after our invasion of Iraq, which sowed the seeds of division. Shamefully, the Shia and Sunni played right into it.  Our short-sighted foreign policy is pitting Saudi Arabia against Iran. Iran is not a threat to anyone, it is the false propaganda by Netanyahu, and the salesmanship of defense contractors to sell Arms to Saudi, and the Saudi monarchs have bought the idea.
I wish we could sell peace and democratic education that will benefit everyone in the long haul. I pray, the leadership of these two nations make a bold move and meet in Singapore and hash out the differences.
In the spirit of Ramadan, I hope the Pakistani people will wake up and fix the discriminative clauses in their constitution towards minorities, particularly the belligerent attitudes towards Ahmadiyya Muslims. If Ramadan cannot purify us, not sure what will. As Iqbal would have said it, “tujhe kya milega ramzan may ” – that what is the point in observing Ramadan if it does not purify you?  I wish Muslims choose to follow the foundation of Islam; Amin, that is caring for every human being and seeking peace and harmony by respecting the otherness of others. No human is more privileged than the other and only God is the judge of one’s faith.
That is indeed the wisdom expressed in Qur’an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: “O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of God, is the best in conduct. God Knows and is Aware of everything you do.”

Muslims must do this

I urge Muslims around the world to take a minute to stop and appreciate the men and women who serve our nation, police, firefighters and others who are out there for the safety of individuals and families.  I have done this time and again, and I always remember the Louisville experience, where the police officer asked me to forward the email to him, asking Muslims to appreciate them, and after the Eid prayers, he had forwarded it to many police officers.

What else? 

Everything you always wanted to know about Ramadan is here at www.RamadanNews.com
Ramadan Commercials by McDonald at http://ramadannews.com/ramadan-commercials/
What does God want? http://ramadannews.com/happy-ramadan-what-does-god-really-want/
You can also read “The Rituals of Ramadan” followed by the “Spirit of Ramadan”.
Usually, Arabic Speaking people call it Ramadan, all others call is Ramzan, both are acceptable terms.
There should be at least 100 ways of wishing the festivities:
Ramadan Mubarak!
Salamat Hari Raya
Eid Mubarak
İyi Ramazanlar
Ramadan Kareem
Hayırlı Ramazanlar
Hoşgeldin Ramazan,
Happy Eid-ul-Fitr
If you know the greetings in any other language, please send an email to MuslimVision2020@gmail.com to be included for the next Eid.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day through the Center for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and its affiliate sites including www.RamadanNews.com and www.MuslimSpeaker.com and www.InterfaithSpeaker.com
      
                     
Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day through the Center for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and its affiliate sites including www.RamadanNews.com and www.MuslimSpeaker.com and www.InterfaithSpeaker.com

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Can Muslims and Christians co-exist – Symposium report 1 of 2

Can Muslims and Christians co-exist – Symposium report 1 of 2

San Antonio, TX, Saturday, February 27, 2916 -- Pastor Charles Flowers of Faith outreach center called on Christians and Muslims to share their perspectives on the subject matter in a symposium organized on Friday and Saturday.

 

No matter how difficult these conversations are, they are necessary to understand and learn about each other. God almighty in Quran says, the best ones among you are those who take the time to learn about each other, when we learn about each other conflicts fade and solutions emerge.     God has created everything in order and in balance, and human greed and insecurities knock this balance off, and God advises us to restore it for our own good.  The act of restoration is indeed a religious inspiration. 

Every religion is beautiful and each one is designed to bring peace, tranquility and salvation to oneself, one learns to live in peace with himself or herself and with others.  There is a shortage of Pastors, Rabbis, Imams, Pundits and religious men and women who have the integrity to say that others religions must be equally beautiful.  My daughter said when she was around 10, “Dad, if the pastor tells the truth that all religions are beautiful, why would any one flock to his church?"  The minute one feels or claims that his faith is the truth (and others are not),  and is superior, it is religion no more, politics and greed have taken over the soul. To sell religion and have larger congregations, one has to lie about other faiths, what a shame!

Thanks to Pastor Flowers and Mrs. Janice Flowers for organizing this event, we were able to clarify a few misunderstandings, but a whole lot more needs to be done. God willing we will continue to strive to create heaven on the earth, where no one has to live in fear of the other. Pastor Flowers is a genuine guy, as he moderated the event with utmost sincerity and honesty, I applaud him for that.

Misinformation about Allah, Islam, Quran and the Prophet was painful to sit through and listen, particularly coming from my brothers who were former Muslims. May God bless them, and give them the knowledge to see that God is God of all humanity despite how we perceive him, her or it is one and the same.  

On the other hand, we (Muslims) have failed to question the authenticity of the Hadiths, Ibn Hisham's Seerah, the Sharia and the exegesis by Tamiya, Katheer, Maududi, Banna and others.  Some of us have put these books on par with Quran, which we should have never done. In the next few yeas, we will be ready to sign a joint declaration that Quran is the only book for Islam - and the only quotes from Quran about Islam will be considered authentic.

We have to fix some of the Hadiths and Sharia books to be authentic and reflect Prophet Muhammad's character who was a mercy to mankind. I don't blame some of our friends from other faiths for being scared of what they read, and most of the time, they quote from these doubtful books, sincerely 
believing that it is Islam.  As a Muslim, Quran is the only book for me, the material in other book will be authentic,  only if it contributes to building peaceful cohesive societies. (Two Islams


The format of the symposium did not allow me to present another point of view except shaking my head in disagreement when I heard things were way off.  I was tempted to walk out a few times, instead I started scribbling Jesus' mantra to turn the other cheek, meaning don't do or say anything to aggravate the situation and started praying like them, asking the lord to forgive them, for they know not.   
We cannot blame others for misunderstanding us without clarifying such misunderstandings, and making an effort to know others' perspective. We have a lot of work to do. As Muslims, we have the responsibility to create a better world for all humanity.

The speakers included three former Muslims; Daniel Akbari, Kamal Saleem and Taufiq, and two practicing Muslims Raheel Reza and Mike Ghouse. Lt. Col. Roy White, and Joe Carey,   both Christian Activists laid out the programs to counter Jihadis. 

The social issues were addressed by four different speakers. Bishop Harry Jackson offered three lenses to look at the presidential candidates and I applaud him for his inclusivity, he responded positively if the candidate were a Muslim or a Hindu, if he or she would be qualified to serve.  What a joy it was to hear him out.

Mrs. Alice Patterson presented how the primaries and precincts work. Her story of overcoming bias is worth listening to, and I have fought with myself not to have any bias towards another human and related with her story. Indeed she played a major role in organizing prayers when a Blackman Alfred Wright was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas in 2013.

 Dr. Fernando Cabrera’s talk on education resonated with me, indeed, his parents told him exactly what my parents did – get education!

Gilbert Hernandez’s presentation was a big hit for me, and I hope to dedicate time for his project.  So many young men and women are lost to the vultures form Gangs and Drug cartels. Muslim Youth are also facing similar problems, as a community we are deeply concerned and want to do everything to safeguard our kids from being recruited by the extremists.   Gilbert’s passion to save our youth is admirable and I hope to connect him with Muslim organizations, they have a good system down to address this sorry state of affairs.

Blessed are the peacemakers, said Jesus on Mount Beatitude, which Prophet Muhammad practiced, and became a mercy to the universe. Following in their footsteps, unwaveringly, I hung on to their wisdom and remained a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer.

Raheel Raza and I gave our presentations on Friday night, which were received very well. I have full written up on my presentation, and will be available under the title of “My speech at San Antonio interfaith symposium about Muslims and Christians” at www.TheGhousediary.com

My commentary on the presentations of Kamal Saleem, Daniel Akbari, Lt. Col. Roy White, and Joe Carey will be finalized after the video or audio presentation becomes available to make sure I can quote them verbatim.

Pastor Charles Flowers concluded each segment with a summary and a graceful prayer. Fortunately, he chose to advance my calling that finding the truth is one's own responsibility. 

My last offering towards the very end of the program was that I will review each item and share my comments and suggestions about the program and publish it.  Those who want to see another perspective are welcome to it. 

My responsibility is to address the phobias and allay the fears; no American has to live in apprehensions or fear of fellow Americans.  My role is to build bridges and free my friends from ill-will and malice.

Yes, Muslims and Christians have coexisted and will continue to do so, despite the shortcomings on both sides that mess up the relationships. I'll summarize the historical, theological and social perspectives at a newspaper and then at the websites American Muslim Institution and ATF. 

This is one of the rarest conferences I have attended where the host has set the highest standards of hospitality.  How many people can I thank? Rosalie Astran, Zulmarie Santiago,  Abraham Martinez and of course,

Twenty years from now our pastors, imams, rabbis, pundits, shamans and all the religious clergy will be telling the truth – that faith is in the heart of the believer just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

My faith is Islam and it is not superior to any religion, nor is any religion superior to Islam, claiming superiority is arrogance, and God in Islam does not favor arrogance, as it is the root cause of all evil and conflicts. Most Muslims get that right and a few don’t, just as with all other religions.

May God bring humility to us.












Thank you,

Mike Ghouse, 
(214) 325-1916
Washington, DC 

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, newsmaker and a professional speaker on PluralismInterfaithIslam,  politicshuman rights, and foreign policy.  Mike is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at TheGhousediary.com 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice must end now

Female Genital Mutilation |  www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
This is a brutal practice of cutting the genital part of women by insecure men of the past, but continued today by equally insecure men.  I have put together several articles here below.  It is cruel, inhuman and violates the inalienable rights of women to life, liberty and happiness, and secondly, the religious leader Syedna Burhanuddin of the Bohra Muslim Community has refused to stop the practice.  I have written a letter to him but he has since passed away and his successor is no different. 
Muslim and Christians should join hands to stop this, as it is practiced by a fraction of them in the name of their religion.
Many have taken up to stop this inhuman practice and we should all join this.
Warning: The pictures too graphic, especially the one with raw blade. Most of the pictures are from Africa to illustrate the point and perhaps due to the limited availability of such practices.

  1. Female Genital Mutilation among Bohra Muslims - A report - not for children, too graphic pictures to bear.
    http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2011/11/female-genital-mutilation-among-bohra.html
  2. Setting the record Straight, Female Genital Mutilation
    http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2012/04/mutilating-facts-setting-record.html
  3. Scientific knowledge at practice was banned in the USA in 1996
    http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/06/female-genital-mutilation-cutting-fgm.html
  4. Female genital cutting
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk1XpaXP3RU
  5. Bohra Women slam cruel tradition of female genital mutilation India Today – NDTV
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgwCt9N6OOA
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR7DkaXCBtM
  7. Female Genital Cutting: An Unknown Global Concern – by Mariya Taher
    http://www.fairobserver.com/culture/female-genital-cutting-an-unknown-global-concern-42053/
  8. FGC and the Law: Why Criminalization Isn’t Enough
    http://blogs.cfr.org/women-around-the-world/2016/02/09/female-genital-cutting-and-the-law-why-criminalization-isnt-enough/
  9. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/08/victim-fgm-speaking-out-cut-genitals-culture-of-silence?CMP=oth_b-aplnews_d-1
  10. End Female Genital Mutilation in India
    https://www.change.org/p/end-female-genital-mutilation-in-india
  11. http://www.safehandsforgirls.org/
  12. Join the Global Conversation to #endFGM Imam Magid and Coptic Pastor
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmfflgHKCfU



Mike Ghouse
Text or Talk at (214) 325-1916

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, and a speaker on Pluralism, Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net for his writings at TheGhousediary.com and several blogs listed there in. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Moderate Muslim speaker

Since 9/11, talk show hosts, journalists, lawmakers, interfaith authorities and thought leaders have asked: “Who are the authentic moderates of Islam?” Where are moderate Muslims to join the debate on social, civic, religious and political issues, including racism and violent extremism? And, “Who speaks for American Muslims?”
Steve Blow of Dallas Morning News wrote, "Over and over you hear it said: If Muslims oppose terrorism, why don't they stand up and say it? If that has been you, Mike Ghouse ought to be your hero."
Muslims are sick of the terrorists, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and their ilk committing evil acts and conveniently passing the buck to their religion, and Muslims are neither happy with those few gullible Americans who are too eager to buy the poor excuses of these gangs. Instead of punishing these criminals, they are hell bent on finding faults with the religion.
In behalf of American Muslim Institution a rally was organized on the steps of Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on Friday, November 20, 2015. The symbolic location was chosen to mirror the effort of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who brought a positive change to the American civil Society with his famous, “I have a dream” speech.  Dr. Ghouse believes that this effort has seeded the momentum for yet another positive change; acceptance of Muslims as equals with the process of integration.
A reporter asked what would be achieved by condemning or demonstrating here at Lincoln Memorial.  Dr. Ghouse responded, “Evil exists because good people do nothing about it, we the good people are doing something about it; we are condemning the evil acts of ISIS, and sending them a clear message that the world condemns their act and that they have no place among the civil societies unless they surrender and give up terrorism, violence and extremism.
At the National Press Club, Dr. Ben Carson was asked if he verifies the information he relays about Muslims and Islam. The lack of response led Dr. Ghouse to offer advice and guidance to him, and if he considers the advice, he will save himself a lot of regrets and time on doubling down on the false information, and if he were smart, he can earn at least 3 Million Muslim votes.
Dr. Mike Ghouse is a proud, unapologetic Moderate Muslim and a passionate advocate of Pluralism in religion, society, politics, race, dining, clothing, dancing, sports and every aspect of life. He is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator who is considered an authority on Pluralism and Interfaith relations in America, and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.
Phyllis Curott, the Vice Chair of Parliament of World’s Religions writes," Mike Ghouse has the courage of his convictions - he carries a spark of inspiration that can only be called Divine…..”
Religion News Service,
" (RNS) A Florida pastor plans to burn a pile of Qurans on the 9/11 anniversary, and interfaith activist Mike Ghouse says, “It is not what (the pastor) will do, it is what we do as Americans and American Muslims that matters.”
Dr. Ghouse has appeared in more than 150 TV Talk shows, including 102 with Sean Hannity alone. He has served as
subject expert hundreds of times on nationally syndicated radio shows. Many listeners have heard his informed opinions at the time of the Quran Burning issue in Mulberry, Florida, Quran Bashing in Dallas Texas, during the Ground Zero Mosque, Boston Bombing, Garland, Phoenix, Washington and other major conflicts.
He has published more than 3000 articles on a variety of topics, of these; more than 1000 are on Pluralism, including 225 pieces in the “Texas Faith” column of the Dallas Morning News and 130 articles at Huffington Post.  A thousand articles on politics, Israel Palestine Dialogue, India, and Terrorism, foreign policy, movies, sports, culture and motivation. The rest of the thousand are about the Pluralistic values of Islam and Muslims.
American Muslims are committed to a prosperous and secure American for every one of the 318 Million Americans.
Contact:
Mike Ghouse (214) 325-1916
SpeakerMikeGhouse@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What is Islam?

Islam is a beautiful system, like all other faiths devised to restore sanity and common sense in a given society through simple basics like building trust, being truthful, be a security to fellow beings, stand up for justice, practice non-judgementalism,  jettison arrogance and adopt humility, and kindness.

These are the seven principles of building cohesive societies where no human has to live in apprehension or fear of the other,  indeed that is the foundation of Islam and a few Muslim have forgotten it. We have to restore it now for building a cohesive world, where people live their lives and let others live theirs.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) laid that foundation, and those seven principles made him an Amin, an individual who lives his life per those principles.  Unfortunately, a 
few have made Islam to be a political system, which it is not. Indeed, sadly all religions have become political systems of you or me, rather than spiritual system of we are in this together.

Preparing a talk on the subject.

Mike Ghouse
www.MuslimSpeaker.com
www.InterfaithSpeaker.com