Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Eid Ul-Fitr Message

Eid Ul-Fitr Message | Ramadan Kareen

Hope this Ramadan has uplifted our spirits and taken us closer to God; i.e. we have acquired God qualities each successive day for the last 30 days of Ramadan. I hope we have become kind, forgiving, generous and all embracing. I hope we have no hate, anger or prejudice towards others, and no barrier between us and another human.

I pray this Ramadan helps us become non-judgemental. If its has not, we can strive for it now. That is what piety (Taqwa) is all about- getting closer to God. God has kept his part of the bargain, he is closer to us than our jugular vein and knows everything we do, and now, it's our turn to feel him within us and and be in tune with the goodness he represents.

Insha Allah I'll write a summary of "what next after Ramadan" at www.RamadanDaily.com capturing the essence of visiting nearly 22 Mosques and just about every denomination. It has opened my horizons to embrace all Muslims without prejudice, and I feel I have gotten closer to the prophet as well, by emulating him, and be a fraction of a billion of being Rahmatul Aalameen. It means I have chosen to follow his real Sunnah- to be mercy (Rahma) to the entire universe without discrimination.

Alhamdu Lillah, I'm grateful to Allah for making this Ramadan meaningful to me. I hope it has been meaningful to you as well.

Protect your Hazira (present status in the society). It is wise thing to secure our today, today, while we are work on securing our Aakhira (after life).

At America Together Foundation, we are committed to building a society where no American, and by virture of our presence, no Muslim has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. Please visit and share the rest of your fitra to presever your Hazirah at : http://americatogetherfoundation.com/donate/

URL - http://ramadanexclusive.blogspot.com/2012/08/eid-ul-fitr-message.html

(214) 325-1916

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike 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 and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily.

Monday, August 20, 2012

America celebrates Eid - Dina Maliki

America celebrates Eid: Outstanding examples of national unity and cohesion


America celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr over the weekend to mark the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. New York’s State Empire building glowed green in celebration with the city’s sizeable Muslim population, a tradition that has been carried on for several years. Here in Dallas, 20 thousand Muslims gathered in downtown Dallas to celebrate by praying and attending a public sermon. Across the DFW metroplex, Islamic centers and mosques were packed with thousands of worshipers celebrating the day of Eid.

There are about 35 mosques in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Mike Ghouse wrote on his daily Ramadan blog. A member of the Texas Faith Panel at the Dallas Morning News and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Ghouse is a prolific Muslim writer, public speaker, activist, and initiator. He maintains over 27 blogs and four websites, indexed at www.mikeghouse.net, mostly around the subjects of pluralism, interfaith movement, justice, politics, Islam, India, hope, and world peace. This Ramadan, Ghouse has visited over 15 mosques where he broke his fast and socialized with Muslim communities.

Mike Ghouse has initiated the Ramadan mosque tours in 2010 and today, his blog statistics reflect over 6000 national daily hits, with additional thousands worldwide. This year, he has visited diverse Muslim communities, like Sunni, Shia, and Ahmadi congregations. He noticed a few differences within the different Muslim traditions, but the fundamentals of the faith were one: belief in One God and in His last prophet, Muhammad. Ghouse even visited a church and a Sikh congregation commemorating the Wisconsin shootings. This model of intrafaith (relations within one faith) and interfaith (relations between different faiths) deserves a big applaud because it reflects a tradition of pluralism and tolerance, which are both intrinsically rooted in both Muslim and American ethics.

Ghouse is also a pioneer in a DFW yearly event, 9/11 Unity Day: "On this Unity Day USA, we, the people of the United States of America of every faith, race and ethnicity, will gather to express our commitment to co-existence, safety, prosperity and the well being of our nation. As Americans we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution. All our faiths reinforce the creed of "One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all”. This year's Unity Day is on Tuesday, September 11, 2012, at 11:30 a.m., at Unity of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75230.

During Ramadan this year, the DFW community has been witness to some serious interfaith relations; the Rev. Wess Magruder with Rowlett’s United Methodist church decided to fast Ramadan with his Muslim friends. For 30 days, the pastor blogged about his experience, reflecting on the spirituality of connecting with God through acts of worship, especially fasting. He has compared Islam with Methodism which was quiet educational for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Muslims found his reflections inspirational because they represented their worship experiences from a fresh angle. Methodists from Rev. Magruder’s congregations 
have been supportive of their pastor and have also learned about Islam from within a fresh perspective.

Commenting on the last post, Jim wrote “I have learned a lot through your posts during your fast, but I have to say that this one is absolutely brilliant. I printed off a copy to keep in my Bible to help me focus on Jesus’ real message to us.” Bill, on the other hand, applauded his pastor by commenting: “I think what you’ve done is a mark of a true leader, Wes. It is great that you have taken your space in this world and shown how others can/must do the same with theirs. And isn’t this how we are given to understand it works? One authentic person gives rein to his heart, stands and says this is the way forward and finds his message spread ’round the world. I love Methodism, and you are a great credit to it.”

So what does Eid mean to those who celebrate it? It reflects thanksgiving to God who promised forgiveness and blessings to those who submit to His will and follow His commandments by doing good and refraining from evil. It celebrates humanity and its main characteristic, self control. There is no one way to celebrate Eid as Muslim diversity is reflected in cultural traditions, but there is a common aspect of Eid that all Muslims (along with their non-Muslim friends who are sharing the experience) share: a sense of a new beginning. After fasting a whole month in submission to God, Muslims are happy to start a fresh year, building community relations and aspiring to maintaining spiritual and ethical principles throughout the year.

To Wes, Mike, and everyone in DFW, many wishes for Eid Mubarak (Blessed holiday) and for a peaceful year. Amen.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ramadan day 24 - Valley Ranch Masjid

Title - Ramadan day 24 - Valley Ranch Masjid
Date - Sunday, August 12, 2012 | Ramadan 24, 1433
Iftaar Time: 8:16 PM CST
Place -Valley Ranch Masjid  (214) 469-9000
Address - 9940 West Valley Ranch Pkwy, Irving, TX 75063
Website -  www.valleyranchmasjid.org
Today’s Pictures:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157631044156796/show/ 
Experience different traditions daily at: 


Alhamdu Lillah, today is the 24th Iftaar, and I wondered at the beginning, if I would be able to write different things each day, thank God for making each day, a uniquely different experience.

Which Masjid did you connect with?  That was the first question Imam Birjas asked me,   I knew right then, that he and I were going to have a great dialogue. The sign of a good leader (Imam) is that he or she asks questions and patiently listens. He has both those qualities.

He is a great believer in feedback, indeed, without it you will never know if the intended teaching was received by the congregation. Apparently he had a survey on the https://www.facebook.com/valleyranchmasjid and asked his members, what they would like to hear in Friday Sermons, and then would incorporate the thoughts in his Qutbas (Sermons).

We discussed the relevancy of Friday sermons, and honestly, the youth will get on their smart phones instead of listening to something they don’t connect with.  While we were discussing this, the young fellow sitting next to Imam was participating in the conversation.

As someone who listens to sermons of different faiths, it was a delight to hear that Imam Birjas also listens to Joel Osteen, whose sermons can be easily converted to Friday sermons using the similar quotes from Bible that are in Quran. He summed it up pretty well; his sermons are more motivational than religious!

Which Masjid did I connect with? Each one of them!  If we broaden our horizons, i.e., if we give up pettiness and embrace the Aalameen like Allah, Quraan and the Prophet, every place is home to us. The blockade is from within, looking down at other’s practices or calling them weird or not connecting with others will not lift us up. I experienced that yesterday; I was reluctant to go to Colleyville Mosque as I did not know any one there, but found out I knew many. The idea is we have to learn to make home every place we visit; making home means feeling at ease. Today, I walked into Valley Ranch Masjid, I knew no one, but felt right at home. Thanks to Imam Birjas for making that happen. Again, there were a few who had mentioned seeing me on Hannity show. 

Qutba relevancy?

Imam Birjas shared a powerful thought on the topic of relevancy in terms of racism. Racism in the broadest terms is looking down on others for the way they look, talk or act.  What did Satan do? He refused to accept the leadership of the newly created Adam, he thought the man was inferior to him and he ain’t going to bow to that thing. 

He sees racism of race, religion, and ethnicity has origins in the original disobedience.
There is a need to include the topic of stereotyping in Juma Sermons, as I have found, a few Muslims make outlandish statements like, “that Mosque is Wahabbi funded, they follow Saudi Arabia, they are Arab dominated, Pakistani dominated and statements like that,  and we are better than them, the hell we are better than them! Some of us put out a lot of rubbish without any proof. 

The late Dick Sartin, a real right winger whom I dealt with in the early 2000, was boycotted by both Jews and Muslims for his false statements. He trapped a few Muslims to talk with him in a negative way about other Muslims, which boomeranged in 2003, causing a lot of investigations into Richardson Mosque and the Imam. We need to cut that crap about denigrating other Muslims without any damned proof. Those few handfuls of men should be ashamed of quoting from their other mouths about the last sermon of the Prophet (pbuh) which says no one is superior to the other.

 The Iftaar dinner was healthy and I liked it. Good amount of Salad well cut baby cucumbers and carrots in the midst of lettuce, corn salad, and Hummus to go with Pita bread and of course Rice. Ha, they forgot any sauce, curry or liquidy thing to mix with Rice, or maybe I did not see it.   The iftaar breaking had a lot of fruits, good fruits! 

The Imam being Palestinian, Kuwaiti, Jordanian and an American had a special brand of black coffee that I can drink frequently. You don’t drink the whole cup; you pour a few spoonfuls and sip.  I cannot take coffee in black, but this was exceptional. The Imam has patents to this, so we cannot make it on our own. No, I am just kidding.  He will share the formula with you. 

We talked about the Quraan translations, and I literally jumped when we agreed that the translations of Hilali Taqiuddin Khan caused much of the Islamophobia, and the legitimate fear it generated among the right wing Christians and Jews. Indeed, I walked away from Islam some 46 years ago, because of such hateful translations towards Christians and Jews and walked back in some 15 years ago after studying different translations and finding the truth. More about it at:http://quraanconference.blogspot.com/ 

He said, being an Arab, he rarely reads the English translations, but when he does, it offends him to see mistranslation by Hilali Khan. I am glad he has a good library of translations of Quraan; indeed, I have a good number of translations. I have promised to present him two translations; Reformers Quraan by Edip Yuskel and Translation by Maulana Wahiduddin. No translation is a final answer; you have to check several to get the essence of it. Finding the truth is your own responsibility, as on the Day of Judgment, no one but you is accountable for your actions.

I have not worn Perfume in 40 some years, on the 2nd day of Iftaar, at Richardson Mosque, a ubiquitous volunteer, who wears a red tall Turkish cap, came and put a tiny drop of perfume on my hand… and tonight, Imam Birjas placed tiny drop on my right hand… I still smell it, it is soft. 

The breaking of fast to the Maghrib prayers were similar to the Masajids in Irving, Richardson, Allen and Plano.
 Apparently someone is going to take the oath, the Shahadah to become a Muslim tonight; I did not stay for the whole sets of Taraweeh prayers. 


America is a great equalizer, something Islam is built around as well. Of course we have learned now that wearing Arabic customary clothes does not make one holy.  One of our great Imams is from Turkey and does not wear the Muslim “garb” (Lol- Juan Williams). Do we (non-Arabs) automatically assume that an Imam wearing the Muslim garb is seriously qualified to be Imam over a guy like me or you, who wear regular clothes? Do we have the prejudice? If the Hafiz tonight was wearing Jeans and T-shirt would you value him the same as the Imam tonight who wore the full Arab Regalia?  Is our religiosity measured by externalities?  

Take it easy, you will find that the Rabbis, Pundits, Pastors, Shamans and clergy of other religions also make a point to wear clothes that separates them. Should they?

Here is your invitation

Each mosque and each tradition is uniquely different.  Insha Allah, I will do my best to keep that uniqueness intact, however, it is not easy to write different things each day for the whole month, and we have just about 5 or 6 days left!  I hope this has been a meaningful journey for you. I urge you to jump in and experience it yourselves.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America with participation from every community. Please visit www.AmericaTogetherfoundation.com


MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike 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 and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily. 

Ramadan day 23 - Colleyville Masjid


Title - Ramadan day 23 - Colleyville Masjid
Date - Saturday, August 11, 2012 | Ramadan 23, 1433
Iftaar Time: 8:16 PM CST
Place - Colleyville Masjid  (817)788-8820
Imam - Yahya J. Aekoma
Address - 500 Cheek-Sparger Rd, Colleyville, Tx 76034
Today’s Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/sets/72157631026310338/show/   
Experience different traditions daily at: 

Click on picture to enlarge - 20 other pictures are in the link

It is one of the most beautiful Mosques in Dallas area; it’s architecturally pleasing, symmetrical and well placed. It offers great street scape and has a pleasant courtyard. Landscaping can be improved with a few bougainvillea and crepe myrtles.  The only comparison is at the Ismaili Jamat Khana in Plano that incorporates similar elements.

I urge the management of this mosque to invite the Chamber of Commerce and the City (Planning) officials, and ask them to consider placing this mosque as one of the landmarks of the city. Which means this Mosque will be on the list of places to see for a visitor to Colleyville.  A good spot to take some extraordinary pictures would be of sunset around 8:16 PM from the intersection of Brown Trail and Cheek-Sparger, camera pointing North-west. With additional landscaping this mosque needs to be showcased.

As a home builder, I appreciate the thoughtfulness in building this mosque. Personally I don’t like to see shoes and sandals when I walk into a mosque or a home, and I sure don’t like to walk through the smell either. In the homes we built, we created a large built in shoe cabinet in the niche with doors to keep the footwear out of sight.  Two Mosques have paid attention to this; the Colleyville Mosque and the Fort Worth Mosque on Diaz Avenue.   

The Masjid space shaped in a “T”, with the sanctuary at the top of the T and a flex hall on the vertical; on either side of the T are the class rooms. A great traditional lay out that keeps everything in sight, and offers safety for women and children being in sight. 

When I left the office for Iftaar, there was an unusual hesitancy in me, never felt that before, and I did not like the feeling either.  I did not know anyone at this Mosque. My inner voice cajoled me, “Your personal commitment to develop the mechanism for intra-faith is a good reason to go, and for God’s sake it is Allah’s house, just go.” So, I did, and thank God for the Hidayat, it was a good experience.

Thanks to Dr. Ateeq Ahmed, Mo Peracha and a few others whom I knew, I felt home instantly.  Three others (apologize for not remembering the names) mentioned reading the Ramadan daily and one gentleman was amused with the Bohra Masjid story from yesterday and another one was connected from my Cricket days.

One of the conversations was a piggy back on what a friend of mine had mentioned; if we can see learn to see how little it takes to live, and then contentment develops.  The man on my left had quite a few things to add, everyone around mentioned not losing a pound, indeed, I did not lose a pound either.

I was struck with the thought of freedom Ramadan offers; the whole day, almost sixteen hours of abstainament from the desire to have a cup of coffee, the desire to have food or water, and be on a constant vigil to be righteous is incredible. Can’t have ill-thoughts about others, cant’ even allow hate to take root, consciously holding on to temptations and anger, avoiding tattle tailing ... Indeed, we can live with very little with much freedom. The word “Mukti” is very descriptive of this state of mind; a genuine freedom from slavery to desire!   

The Khajoors (dates) were neatly placed on a napkins along with a cup of Rooh Afza (refreshing drink) at the entrance table. That was a very efficient way to distribute the Iftaar material.

At the call of Adhan (prayer call), normally every one breaks the fast with a bite of a date, but here today, there were some who waited for the call to finish!  Each Masjid has a different practice; of leading to the moment on his or her own or follow the tradition, as is done at Madinah Masjid in Carrollton, every second of the last few minutes are guided by the Imam there with supplications.

The sanctuary has clean white walls and I liked that. It is a place of worship and let it remain clean. By the way, one of the cleanest Mosques and its courtyard is the Masjid-Al-Aqsa. It was incredibly clean.

We may consider the long term relations with the communities we mosque in, we may consider to place our Masajid’s on weekly tours for the citizens in an open house, so people can come and see the sanctuary. It is about God and nothing but God; nothing is hidden, no secret deity or no nothing. It is simply a place of worship with an intention to pray, and there is nothing but you and God, the abstract God who is formless.  "He is the One God, God the Eternal, the Uncaused Cause of All Being; He begets not, and neither is He begotten; and there is nothing that could be compared with Him.”
Good simple food! Salad, Lentil (Daal), Palau (rice with fragrance) and Chicken Curry (Not sure what it was, there was sign which said Halim, but that was not Halim).

Mr. Peracha introduced me to the young Imam Yahya J. Aekoma, his Qir’at (style of recitation) reminded me of the ones I used to hear early in the mornings in Saudi Arabia. It was good to meet with him; he is apparently trained from the Bayyanah institute of Islamic learning with Ustad Nouman, a good speaker with a vision to improve the learning systems. I hope to connect with him one of these days.

There was a small commotion after the prayer; apparently those who came late to the prayers started their own Jamaat (group prayer led by an individual) instead of joining the current prayer in the middle and completing it out after the group finished its prayers. A gentleman was unhappy about the group by telling them so… that was discourteous to others who were observing the Sunna prayers. He was technically right, but certainly not polite about it. He could have waited after the prayers and explained his point of view. I am sure he feels regretful, and I am glad Mr. Peracha and others did not say a word that was the right thing to do to let the conflict die down on its own. 

Although it is disappearing now, the women in their thirties can recall belligerent men, yelling at them to cover the head, and or pull the scarf over the hair. One should mind his own manners and not resort to telling others how to pray or behave on the spot, if we do; we need to do it quietly and politely. Thank God the kids tell me when I meet them about what they feel good about being in a Mosque. 

This evening I overheard a teen justifying the behavior -“if they come to the prayers on time, this would not have happened.” Wow! That decisive kid will yell at others when he grows up.  We all need to be trained with the “adaabs” of the mosque. May be our Imams can add a simple item or two in every Friday Sermon.

It was just beautiful outside the Mosque, everyone was hanging out in the front courtyard, there were a few benches and the mercury flood light was adding pleasantness. It was time to have a cup of tea or carry a conversation.  No one was in a hurry to go!

In the beginning of Ramadan, I wrote and wished that we incorporate in our spaces, a mechanism to promote fellowship - meaning people hanging out and getting to know each other, instead of dashing home. That is what builds a sense of community.

The three friends sitting on the bench in one of pictures were from Jordan, Pakistan and Somalia - our conversation started on Sura Hujurat 49:13 and they said they were just talking about it. It was good to see this kind of fellow ship.

I hope we can consider designing our facilities to encourage fellowship and making this place to be a community place, as the prophet intended with Masjid-e-Nabawi.

Apparently a new Mosque is being considered in South Lake, and I beg Muslims to consider following the first two models of the prophet before building a Mosque; that of Amin and a conflict mitigater. I was in the middle of the controversy with Ground Zero Mosque. I stood my ground with Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabriel, David Horowitz and Frank Gaffney in the span of a week. I felt like I was fighting it alone with hawks all around me.

Here is one with Brigitte Gabriel and Sean Hannity on Fox News

I believe Imam Feisal Rauf made the mistake by avoiding TV interviews, had he done that at the beginning, much of the controversy would have been averted, I was called in after the controversy began, and it was too late to extinguish the flames.

click to enlarge picture- 20 other pictures in the flickr link above
We have to build relationships, we live in the community and we need to be friends, it is the right thing to do. In a time when Churches are being closed down for lack of funds, a Mosque going up creates resentment. We can win the wars legally, but we lose in the long haul - living in apprehension and constant concerns is not a healthy way of living.

We have to be the contributors towards creating peaceful cohesive societies. It is our responsibility.  A genuine friendship is essential, without the mal-intention of converting the other when you befriend them, but a genuine interest in the wellbeing of people brings lasting relationships to live in peace with others.  Go back to the example of how Prophet treated that old lady who was unkind to him, when he walked by her house.  We need to prioritize our Sunna - to create goodness or run with a hidden agenda of conversion. Islam is about openness and truthfulness and that is the kind of Sunnah we need to pursue.

We have to hire a community relations manager before we buy the land. That is my advice observing the mistakes we have made in Murfreesboro, Houston, California and other places. Take a look at this blog to understand the difficulties. 

By the way, Rabbi Charlie Citreon- Walker who was in Colleyville Masjid yesterday is being recognized by the Foundation for pluralism and America Together foundation on the Unity Day USA for his interfaith relations work.   Details are on the websitewww.UnitydayUSA.com

Three of the pastors who were recipients of this annual award, had stood up with Muslims for the Ground Zero Mosque and wrote in Dallas Morning news about it during the controversy. One of them is Bob Roberts of the Baptist Church in your neighborhood.  We need to stand up for others and we must encourage those who stand up for others including us.  People like Rabbi Walker and others awardees will be standing up for each other.

We really need your presence. Please confirm at the email at the website. That is another Sunnah we Muslims need to follow, to learn to rsvp.  

Here is your invitation
We are pleased to invite you to the 8th Annual Unity Day USA.
on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 11:30 am
at Unity of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75230

Each mosque and each tradition is uniquely different.  Insha Allah, I will do my best to keep that uniqueness intact, however, it is not easy to write different things each day for the whole month, and we have just about 5 or 6 days left!  I hope this has been a meaningful journey for you. I urge you to jump in and experience it yourselves.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America with participation from every community. Please visitwww.AmericaTogetherfoundation.com 

Please mark your calendar for the Unity Day USA, onTuesday, September 11, 2012 at 11:30 am at Unity of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75230. It is a positive event that brings Americans Together to rededicate our pledge for a peaceful, prosperous and secure America. We are a part of America and we need to feel and live it.  Please visit www.UnityDayUSA.com

Please visit 
www.RamadanDaily.com  for a record since 2010.

MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike 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 and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily.