SEASON OF PEACE EVENT

1. American Muslims are proud of taking the right step - Link
2. Moderate Muslims Speak out? Link


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Quran; A new translation by Safi Kaskas

Quran Translation by Safi Kaskas |www.QuraanToday.com 

I welcome this new translation of Quran by Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford among the multitudes of translations. Indeed there are nearly 300 English translations in the market now, and each one reflects the experiences of the translator, as it should.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) understood human nature, and believed in freedom, an inalienable rights of individuals.  He has repeatedly said, there is no compulsion in religion and that you cannot push any one to believe against his or her will.  Thus, in his last sermon, he said (paraphrase), ‘I am leaving this book to you to read and understand it, hang on to it, and you cannot go wrong with it.’

Mind you, he did not assign the interpretation of the book (Quran) to anyone. He did not say, ‘look, from here on if you have questions about the book, check with So and So Shaikh.’ He know each person will read and understand through his own prism and that is why Islam is also called a Deen of fitra (human nature). I would say don't judge Islam, Christianity or any faith by the actions of the individuals, religion stands on its own - a pristine system to create peaceful societies,  most people get that right and a few don't. 




Quran cannot be more clearer than this, it repeats endlessly that no one is responsible for your actions but you, and it is your responsibility to get the book right before you act. Police will give you a ticket if you violate the traffic rules, your claim that you did not know does not release you from the mistake you made.

Quran is a book of guidance to find peace within and peace with others, if you don’t get that right, go back and read it. God cannot be wrong; it is your understanding that is wrong. By the way no one owns God, he, she or it is not any one's property either.

There is a simple test to determine the authenticity of the translation (or your understanding of it); and that is, God is not a villain of his own creation. Quran respects all creation, and respects all traditions and calls for accountability, justice and mercy to build a cohesive society where no one has to live in fear of the other.

The second test is based on the individual, the more an individual interacts with people of different faiths, the greater the understanding of Islam he or she would have, indeed Prophet Muhammad grew up in such an environment and he was pluralistic to the core like Jesus and all the great spiritual masters of the world. He respected the otherness of of the others and it is summarized in this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7Tyt7raIXM

Religion is not about arrogant claims that you have a superior product. Arrogance creates conflicts with others right off the bat.  No matter what religion it is, it teaches humility that builds bridges and harmony between different people. 

Take a look at Safi’s translation, it's available at Amazon, “The Qur’an with references to the Bible” by Safi Kaskas and David Hungerford. You owe it to yourselves to find the truth.

Safi is an interfaith activist and he clearly grasps the essence of Quran, that is to create cohesive societies. He passes in both the tests I have mentioned earlier. I have promised him to read his translation write a review, and I shall soon do that, after I complete my book, "the Mistakes Muslims have made".

Video Interview of Safi Kaskas -https://youtu.be/HLuAvLKNjlw

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Saudi Arabia - Conscience takes a back seat – by Tariq Al-Maeena

Conscience takes a back seat | WorldMuslimCongress.com

As an American Muslim, I appreciate this piece. Stereotyping is one of the things I have been fighting all my life for people to rid their prejudices.

Pieces like this are eye openers, particularly for American Muslims, so many are prejudiced towards Saudi’s without realizing that there are individuals alike everywhere. Saudi bashing is fairly common, and I always remind them the man they adore, admire and call Rahmatul Aalameen comes from that region. 

 The white majority who mistreated the Black people in America are the very same people who supported them to have full rights as equal citizens.  

Not all Saudi’s are Wahhabis, and I don’t have any problem with Wahhabism, provided,  they keep their tradition to themselves and not push it on others.  

Let the followers of Islam spread peace through friendships and caring for others, and not creating chaos through fanaticism, extremism and violence.  If we sincerely believe Islam is the religion of peace, our talks, acts and behavior should express peace and nothing but peace.  The non-Muslims should see that we are for peace and building cohesive societies with freedom and not compulsion and chaos.

Your piece opens the eyes to the people – hey the Saudis are like us, with their conscience governing them and constantly struggling between right and wrong.  Likewise, don’t judge us Americans by Trump but by Bernie Sanders.
 
Conscience takes a back seat – by Tariq Al-Maeena
http://saudigazette.com.sa/opinion/conscience-takes-a-back-seat/#comment-23739


Tariq A. Al-Maeena
As children, most of us were taught the difference between right and wrong and good and evil, and how one path would take us toward righteousness while the other would led to damnation.  And we held on tightly to that childhood creed in order to make us better human beings.
But along the way as we got older, wires seem to have got crossed, and the solid line between right and wrong became a little blurry to some people.  They remain good people, but as I see it, their conscience has taken a back seat.
I was at Farid’s office when he received a call from his son.  I could only hear one side of the conversation, but the gist of it seemed to be that some rental contract was needed.  When he hung up, Farid looked perplexed.  I asked him if all was okay.  “Yes, it’s just that my son needs a house rental contract from me and I don’t know if a real estate office will provide one.”
“Your son is living in the duplex you built for him in the back of your residence.  Is he paying you rent?”
“No, but he needs a rental contract to avoid paying the SR3,500 university fees as an external student.  You see, if he has a rental contract, the university foregoes the fee requirement to alleviate additional financial burdens,” Farid explained.
“Wait a minute, Farid.  Your son has a good paying job, he is living at home for free, and you want to get him a fake rental contract?  Isn’t that cheating?  The university’s intent is to help students with financial burdens and not someone like your son.  He should not ask for an exception and neither should you provide him with a contract,” I admonished.
Looking at me with a wry smile, Farid replied: “Tariq, the system teaches everybody to do it.  So why shouldn’t I?”  I left before I blew a fuse.
Every year prior to the month of Ramadan there is a huge demand for household help.  Ads are everywhere as desperate housewives seek helping hands for the month of fasting when more food is prepared and served than at any other time of the year.  Not to mention that most food is probably thrown away during the holiest of all Islamic months.  Many domestic workers also take advantage of the situation by leaving their sponsors unannounced and searching for the highest bidder.
I had been invited to Mohamed’s house for an Iftar (breaking the fast) gathering last Ramadan.  His household was in disarray a few weeks earlier when his two housemaids decided to quit and left the country.  Looking at the wide array of dishes prepared for the guests, I remarked to Mohamed that his domestic help issue must have been resolved and that he must have recruited and received new help from overseas.
“No, I haven’t yet.  The visas are with the recruitment agency, but it is taking a long time.  That is why we had to hire locally at exorbitant wages.  We were lucky to find two women, one a Sri Lankan and  the other an Indonesian who agreed to work for us.  Thank God, otherwise my wife would have gone crazy.”
“Are these workers on legal work visas,” I asked.  “Have you checked and verified their documents?  Are they legal?  They could have run away from their previous sponsors.”
“Who cares, Tariq?  They are here right now and they are being paid.  They are providing us a service that we are desperately in need of.  You know the household demands during this month with family and friends dropping by.  We needed help.”
“Mohamed, did you ever stop to wonder if these workers left another home in dire straits by disappearing without notice?  Perhaps there is hardship in a home that desperately needed them.  It could have been an elderly lady they worked for, or a young divorced mother with children who needed to be looked after while she was at work.  Not all sponsors are bad.  You and I know that greed has caused many domestic workers to desert their lawful sponsors, especially prior to Ramadan.”
I wanted to ask him how he and his family could sit there and enjoy food prepared by someone who could by her presence in their home have been the source of anguish to the household she left behind.  How can we justify such actions and satiate our hunger while others somewhere else may be suffering?
My thoughts were quickly interrupted by Mohamed.  “Dive into your food Tariq before it gets cold.  Besides, if we didn’t hire them, believe me there are thousands who would.  Now enjoy yourself.”
How could I?  The line between right and wrong has not been blurred to that degree.
 — The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter@talmaeena

Friday, January 29, 2016

Books Teaching Radical Islam to Kindergarteners

Teaching Hatred to Children | www.InterfaithSpeaker.com 

An Indonesian school teaches children to be Jihadis (link appended). "
Meant to teach children how to read Arabic, the books contained phrases such as "sa-hid di me-dan ji-had" (die as a jihadist), “ma-ti be-la a-ga-ma" (die defending religion) and “bi-la a-ga-ma ki-ta di-hi-na ki-ta ti-a-da re-la" (we won't stand to see our religion insulted).

The Westboro Baptist Church puts 5 t0 10 year old kids  to hold hateful placards against Jews and LGBT community. Last week, Pro-Lifers held a rally in Washington DC, there were toddlers and babies listening to the rants of the parents.

Jewish kids are taught to hate the other, Palestinian Christians and Muslims, the even yanked a Christmas tree last year. 

Hindu kids spew their hatred for Muslim, a 6 year old boy holds a sword and swears to use it against Muslim, I have seen two videos taken from the RSS training camps, where children were taught to hate Muslims and use violence. 

Something must be done about this, there is so much hatred taught by almost every group.  If only the parents know that they are poisoning their children with hatred making it difficult for them to live with others, they may stop it, at least most of them will stop. 

It is not Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews or Buddhists, it is a percent in each one of these groups that is hate filled and destructive to themselves first, and to others. For a long time, I have maintained, "for every Muslim ass, you will find a Hindu, Christian, Jewish and a Buddhist ass." It is not the religion, it is the parents who poison their children.

Muslim kids are taught hatred, which they bring with them even here in America, The Hindu, Christian and Jewish kids are no exception either, and now the Buddhist kids are poisoned daily with hatred for the other.

My first such encounter was my father standing up at a temple in Nanjangud, Karnataka. The priest was spewing falsities about Tipu Sultan, so the visitors can walk out not in peace but with hatred for Muslims. My father spoke up, and the bus load of his friends were with him, all Hindus and fully supported my father, he and I were the only Muslims on the bus tour visiting places.  My father gave a talk that Tipu had restored several temples including the Sri Ranganath temple in Srirangapatna, which the priest at the temple tells clearly, which is not very far from Nanjangud.  OMG, this story of Indonesia pulled the vivid pictures from that day.  If the priest had stopped spewing hatred... millions of tourist since then, almost 55 years ago, would have been saved from hatred.

Almost 50 years later, I encountered a similar event in Jerusalem - a bus load of Americans from the Middle East Peace Initiative were on the bus, and the tour guide starting talking about Israel - the first thing she did was explain Islam, and said it has six pillars, and the first one was Jihad, that means kill the Jews... I got up and said, that the information is wrong, and asked if I can speak after she has finished? My fellow Americans in unison (this has happened before) said, let him speak, and I did, there were two Imams on the bus as well form Netherlands. Jihad was no pillar of Islam.... and not only that, the bus people were with us, we called in the prayer call, pulled the bus over and prayed and broke the fast of Ramadan. She was defensive, and said she was merely saying what she was trained about and we did not have an argument with her, poor girl was doing what she was told to do. When we reached Hotel, we printed and gave her the 5 pillars of Islam which she passed it on to her management.... how many American Kids must be brainwashed daily, for what, to mess them up?

Back in Dallas, I was on Radio all day on the day of 9/11/2001 making coherence out of the chaos of the day, and I had almost every area mayor, religious leaders on my show and we encouraged people to donate blood, monies and start the interfaith prayers. That is another story (http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2014/09/911-my-personal-journey-from-2001.html). So, I was asked to arrange for the prayers in the Mosque and I did, with people from all faiths including Hindu faith, which many Muslims appreciated, but there were two assholes, who ridiculed me for bringing in a Hindu in the temple. 

In one of the Unity Day programs, a group of people ganged up on me and said, we will not attend the program if you have the Wicca people standing there with us, I told them that I will do anything for them, but not disinvite them, and that I will represent their group, as I have done many times, represented Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, Baha’i and others. By the way, don’t guess who they were, they were not Muslim; all of this will be published in a few years.

In another prayer at the Hindu temple with non-Hindus, I was the only Muslim, and one asshole started screaming his hatred about Muslims, and the President of the group, grabbed his hand and pointed towards me, and said here is our Muslim friend. Imagine if he was not stopped, one after another, 10 more speakers would have spewed hatred and walked out frustrated.

The bad people are handful, just a few, if we stop them initially, a whole lot of bad will not flow from them.  If you color the river at its starting point, the fountain head so to say, the entire river will have it, if we keep it clean, a whole lot of it will now flow from there.



Mike Ghouse 


Google Mike Ghouse
 
www.MuslimSpeaker.com
www.InterfaithSpeaker.com 
---



Jakarta. The editor behind the kindergarten textbooks believed to be containing "dangerous radical Islamic teachings" has defended his products, saying that it was all a matter of perception.
The series "Muslim Kids Like to Read" recently caught the ire of moderate Muslim groups like the Ansor Youth Movement (GP Ansor), which had discovered it in a kindergarten in Depok, just south of Jakarta.

Meant to teach children how to read Arabic, the books contained phrases such as "sa-hid di me-dan ji-had" (die as a jihadist), “ma-ti be-la a-ga-ma" (die defending religion) and “bi-la a-ga-ma ki-ta di-hi-na ki-ta ti-a-da re-la" (we won't stand to see our religion insulted).
They were first published in 1999, with the 167th edition issued last year by Pusaka Amanah Publisher in Solo, Central Java, and written by Nurani Mastain.
Pusaka Amanah owner Sarwono refused to take responsibility for the books, saying: “We only print them.”

Continued at: http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/editor-defends-books-teaching-radical-islam-kindergarteners/

Muhammad Ali statement about Jason Rezaian

This is an interesting news release, normally it does not happen, but glad to see the NPC release this

National Press Club issues statement by Muhammad Ali to Jason Rezaian

January 28, 2016 | By Muhammad Ali
The National Press Club issued the following statement from Muhammad Ali to Jason Rezaian of the Washington Post on Jan. 28.
"What a true blessing to learn of your release from Iran. It truly lifted a weight off my heart and I thank God that you are back home with friends and family. Your faithfulness, peace and faith helped you through this journey and will continue to lift you up throughout your life. It is my greatest hope that you continue sharing your gift of writing to share the true meaning of Islam with the world, Muhammad Ali said in the statement.
In March of 2015 Muhammad Ali first spoke out for Jason Rezaian, calling on Iran to release the Washington Post reporter who had been unjustly detained in prison. Ali tweeted the day Rezaian was released (which was also Ali’s birthday). This is the first statement Ali has issued since Rezaian has been released.
http://www.press.org/news-multimedia/news/national-press-club-issues-statement-muhammad-ali-jason-rezaian 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ted Cruz - I am a Christian first, can a Muslim get away with it? Can a Muslim be President of America

Christian First Ted Cruz | Center for American Politics 

Sunday, January 24, 2016 - Will Ted Cruz get away with his bold claim that his first loyalty is to Christianity, and second to America? Can a Muslim become the President of the United States?

The Evangelicals grilled Romney and Kennedy for their faith, Mormon and Catholic Christians respectively. Fortunately the candidates made it clear that their personal beliefs and public responsibilities are two separate things, so their religion was not an issue any more, and we elected Kennedy, and nominated Romney.

Not all Religious people are honest, everyone can be bought for the right money or influence, as Richard Gere had said in his famous dialogue in the movie Pretty Woman. The Evangelicals were eager to nominate Sanatorium in 2012 election cycle while grilling Romney’s Mormonism at the same time, indeed, Pastor Robert Jeffress called Mormonism a cult to stay away from.

When Chameleon Romney changed his stripes to be a Moderate, he gained momentum from the main stream Republicans,  and when they saw that Romney was ahead,  the Evangelicals start falling over each other to appease Romney, as Santorum became a dead candidate. 

Ted Cruz now claims his loyalty is to Christianity first, and he should, but would that prevent him from being honest to the American constitution? Is that third or fourth?

What would be his stand on Roe V Wade, GLBT, and other issues? Is he loyal to his version of Christianity or the Constitution? What happens to the first Amendment? 

I hope he is grilled, as it clouds his decision making. I am not sure if the Trump Kettle can call the Cruz pot black?

In May 2012, I wrote, "Can an Indian American become President of the United States?"  http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2012/05/can-indian-american-become-president-of.html

Then I also wrote, Can a Muslim become Prime Minister of India?  http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2012/05/can-muslim-indian-become-prime-minister.html 

Can a Muslim American become the President of the United States? I am pleased to present the essence of what I wrote a few years ago.

Muslims have the same problems as the Christians. 

Approximately a third of American Muslims are African Americans, and the South Asians make up about a third and the rest are from Middle East, Africa, Europe and South East Asia.

Most of the African Americans are native, or born Americans, where as the others are immigrants. Thanks to the efforts of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights act of 1964 opened up immigration and brought a majority of Muslim immigrants.  
Muslim Americans are where Christians were a decade ago.  Most of us (not all) have not come to grips with same sex marriage, LGBT, abortion, Sharia,  free speech and the arrogant claims that our faith is superior.  Many of them, don't even want to talk about it. 

35% of
 Americans do not identify themselves with any religion, and they are called 'Nones" and another 10% identify themselves as LGBT. That leaves about 55% of possible American voters who are religiously affiliated, of which 29% are Evangelicals, and 63% of them will not vote for Muslims at this time. 

Thank God many of the American Muslims have crossed the bigotry threshold from within, yet we have some who are belligerent and hateful towards each other between Sunni, Shia, Ahmadiyya and others. We have to learn to respect the otherness of others if we want to be in the public and shape the future of America, a beacon of hope to the world for human rights.  Until we rise above our pettiness, we will not be shapers of the nation. 

I have always wondered, would Muslims behave like the Evangelicals if an Ahmadiyya Muslim were running for the President? Can an Ahmadiyya Muslim sink the presidency of a Sunni Muslim for his bigotry? Would Sunnis and Shias turn 180% from bigotry or sulk in it.  It is time for us to prepare ourselves for such eventualities and chart our future. Do we want to talk about this?

I am hopeful of the 2nd and 3rd generation of Muslim Americans; they will not be as bigoted as the 1st generation and the Immigrant Americans.

Insha Allah we have to prepare our kids to be pluralist Muslims (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7Tyt7raIXM ) , meaning those who learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of us.  By the end of 2020, there will not be a major city in America, and perhaps in the world, where you will not find people of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities, races, nationalities and social backgrounds working, eating, playing, marrying, and doing things together.

We need to prepare ourselves for those eventualities to prevent possible conflicts, and lay a good foundation for nurturing goodwill and effective functioning of the societies. Exclusive communities will become a thing of the past.
  If you live amidst others, you must also respect the otherness of others, as you expect them to do the same for you.

We owe to the next generations to live a better world for them by carving a smoother pavement for them. 

Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solution on issues of the day - More at www.MikeGhouse.net 
# # #
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/01/22/1473694/-Ted-Cruz-I-m-a-Christian-first-American-second-Imagine-if-Muslim-or-Jewish-politician-said-that?detail=facebook

Friday Jan 22, 2016 · 3:19 PM EST


In response to the ad and other attacks on his Christianity as well as his conservatism, Cruz responded:

“I’m a Christian first, American second, conservative third and Republican fourth...I’ll tell ya, there are a whole lot of people in this country that feel exactly the same way.”
“I’m a Christian first, American second, conservative third and Republican fourth...I’ll tell ya, there are a whole lot of people in this country that feel exactly the same way.”
His Christianity is probably the last thing Ted Cruz ever thought would give him problems. However, a new ad produced by Americans United for Values attacks him for being, get this, a “false prophet.” Among other slings and arrows hurled, the ad slams Cruz for not tithing—donating 10 percent of his income to charity—something many Christians believe is a sacred obligation. Cruz, it seems, hasdonated only about one percent of his income—which came to around $1 million annually—to charity between 2006 and 2010.

The politics of this aside, I want to highlight here something we might call Christian Privilege. Could you imagine, for example, a Jewish candidate for president saying that he or she was a Jew first and an American second? Now imagine the sheer outrage if a Muslim American of any prominence whatsoever declared that he or she was Muslim first and American second. People’s heads would explode.
On a related note, imagine a presidential candidate saying he or she was black, white, or Latino (or any other ethnic group) first, and American second. President Obama—and, having done extensive research on his conception of ethnic and national identity, I believe he sincerely feels this way—made crystal clear before 2008 that his identification as an American took precedence over his blackness.  Without doubt, he could not have been elected president without having done so.
I want, no, I demand, a president whose first loyalty is to the Constitution, and to the people—all the people—he or she was elected to serve. Only a Christian has the privilege—and only ones like Ted Cruz, who present themselves as holier than thou, would have the gall—to claim otherwise.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Muslim crossroads: Millions gather against blasphemous depictions but similar numbers are not seen protesting against ISIS

Muslims at Crossroads | www.WorldMuslimCongress.com


Sadia's article below is pointed and accurate description of the state of the Muslims. She has given a good warning in her last sentence.

On the issue of rally, she has forgotten as Mr. Khalid Azam pointed it out that Deoband held a huge anti-ISIS rally last year and I remember lakhs of clergy and Muslims signing the condemnation. By the way we at the American Muslim Institution held the first anti-Terrorism and anti-ISIS really in the United States on the steps of Lincoln Memorial. Much has been written about it on this blog as well as the American Muslim Institution.org

Mike Ghouse
www.MuslimSpeaker.com 


# # #   


A Muslim crossroads: Millions gather against blasphemous depictions but similar numbers are not seen protesting against ISIS

January 22, 2016, 2:54 AM IST  in TOI Edit Page | Edit PageIndia | TOI


Courtesy - Times of India
Be it, Indonesia, Paris, Pakistan, America, Africa, Iraq, India or any place else, whenever terror strikes, Muslims experience multiple emotions ranging from shock, disbelief, anger, and fear of backlash. Clearly, the usual response, “Islam is a religion of peace”, rings hollow in the midst of the brutalities and slaughter that Muslim terrorists are perpetrating. Sadly, they are succeeding in globally projecting Islam as inherently violent.
Terrorists have already hijacked the word jihad, a beautiful word, with multiple meanings, once best defined as the struggle against the self to purify the soul of spiritual maladies.
Fortunately, India has the least number of ISIS sympathisers amongst Muslim communities worldwide. This goes to the credit of Indian Muslims, and their clerics, who barring the odd one, do not rave and rant, nor breed terror in madrasas, or fuel the divide between various groups within Muslims, saving us from the sectarian strife plaguing most Muslim countries.
Nothing defames Islam more than ISIS using the image of Prophet Muhammad’s seal on their flag. This is worse than cartoons or writings that attack core Islamic values. Millions gather against blasphemous media depictions, and for religious congregations, such as the recent Bhishwa Ijtema near Dhaka attended by Muslims from about 150 countries. When similar numbers are not seen protesting against ISIS, or the hacking of bloggers in Bangladesh, it is time to recognise the serious problems with mainstream Islamic discourse.
As opposed to traditional Islam, focus has shifted from tasawuff, spirituality to fiqh, jurisprudence. Islam needs rejuvenation, where law is again reconciled with spirituality, and justice tempered with compassion, God’s principle attribute and overriding tenet of Islam.
Cornered, Muslims are defining themselves in terms of “who we are not”, rather than “who we are”. If we proclaim that terrorists are not Muslims, we replicate their way, for they declare Muslims who don’t believe in their ideology as non-Muslims and kill them.
Conspiracy theories of ISIS as Israelis Jews masquerading as Muslims are delusional. Facts reveal that terrorist groups continue to be funded by some Muslim states and rich Muslims. “Nothing to do with Islam”, is poor defence, because terrorists quote the Quran. They do this selectively, ignoring its totalitarian wisdom that explicitly orders to repel evil with good, abhors those spreading fitna (social strife) that violates an atmosphere of peace.
Rather than through contributions to sciences, arts and gender justice, we have allowed hijab to define Islam. Why are Muslim voices defending the right to choose wearing the hijab louder than those against enforcing it legally to subjugate women? Not mandatory in Islam, the increased use of the black abaya and headscarf hijab are signs of the increasingly successful export of the hegemonic religious and cultural discourse of some oil rich Arab states. For the last 1,300 years, Islam has not been an archaic unchanging Arab religion. Today, Arabs comprise just 8% of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims.
Groups like ISIS sell Muslims the dream of returning to some imagined ideal Islamic state, suggesting that Islamic history has failed and they are here to correct it. Islamic civilisation has witnessed a glorious history powered by cultural diversities of largely non-Arab Muslim communities. It created literary, scientific, architectural, philosophical and cultural marvels, which fuelled the Renaissance, carrying its light to Europe.
Hypocrites, terrorists reject modernity, but use its fruits such as modern weaponry, and the internet to propagate their diseased ideology. If not watchful, ISIS, al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Taliban, and their like will push Muslims into the Dark Ages, when unlike Islam, Christianity had serious problems reconciling with science and reason.
The debates on modernity are complex, because while claiming to return to first century Islam, terrorists actually use modern Salafi Wahabi Islamic texts to justify their actions. Salafis reject centuries of Islamic philosophy and teachings, which approaches the Quran as a spiritual treatise and not a political document. Dry, rigid Wahabi narratives do not leave room even for creative expressions of devotion, destroying the rich and textured legacy of indigenous Muslim communities and their local traditions.
Shaykh Google and fatwa dotcoms are by default part of the problem. Radical imams and hundreds of young Muslims are feeling obliged to spread Islam and correct the ways of whom they think as wayward Muslims. But recent studies prove that the majority of new Muslims do not embrace Islam overnight due to pamphlet distribution or through YouTube or television shows. Most conversions take place over years of interaction with Muslims, impacted by their kindness, generosity, values and unwavering devotion to God.
WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter have made it impossible to escape the cacophony of the words “shirk, bidah, haram” (meaning idolatry, innovation and unlawful) by fellow Muslims. Instead of calling to moral excellence, this propagation of an exclusivist fatwa and finger pointing Islam based on trivia is sheer ignorance, arrogance and stupidity.
Unfortunately, the internet can lead to gross misguidance. Viewing remains largely unmonitored by family elders, depriving of traditional learning through sohbat – companionship of the wise and enlightened. These are challenging times for Muslims, and unless the continuing rhetoric of rage, revenge, conspiracies, blasphemy, evangelism and damning the “other”, is shed, the word Islam is in danger of being used derogatorily, much like the word jihad.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.


Tajikistan's de-radicalization program is counter productive


This piece is a rebuttal to Tajikistan's de-radicalization program by force shaving the beards and banning sales of Hijab items of the Tajikistani people. It is counterproductive, indeed, it will increase radicalization to defend their honor.  Link

January 23, 2016 - The Government of Jumhurii Tojikiston (Democratic nation of Tajikistan) has brutally imposed its way of life on her citizens by, "Shaving off 13,000 beards, shutting shops selling hijab: Tajikistan 'fights radicalisation' in Khatlon region of the country.  


Individuals who do not believe in genuine freedom,  and the arrogant ones who believe  that they know what is good for others are the ones going to rejoice this imposition.  Even in America, those who talk about liberty will become hypocrites in this case reflecting their bias towards Muslims.  We shall see how many politicians and how many talk show hosts will defend the liberties of the people, even though they do not agree with them.

I am saddened for Muslims; I remember a Hadith where Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had wished that his people had a book to follow like the other people, and I admire him for giving us the book. I wish he had also wished that we elected our leaders through the consent of the people and had instituted a system of democracy. 

I am saddened that throughout the Muslims history, with the exception of first 30 years of the rightly guided Caliphs, and the immediate past 70 years of democracies, we were deprived for a full 1300 years to give our input and our consent to the government.  Of course, that was the way with other nations too except the United States that had its democracy for 239 years. 

We still do not have the Muslim majority Governments that are run by the consent of the people with a few exceptions like Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Albania, Bosnia, Malaysia and now Pakistan.  Iran does hold elections, but it’s an oligarchy that runs the show without the consent of the people.  

I also appreciate the prophet for giving us the freedom to elect our leaders through the consent of the people rather than imposed from above.  If he had wished “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (From our immortal declaration, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;”) we would have had mature democracies that would have brought free will in our practices and consent of the governed for the Government. This is what is missing in most of the Muslims societies and communities. 


We took the crap far too long and finally things are turning around, thank God for it. In the last 15 years, we have witnessed tremendous questioning, steps that will lead to fixing our problems like radicalization. This could not have been imagined 50 years ago, as the oppressors among us would have pointed their fatwa guns to shut you up. Thank God, the oppression from within is coming to an end. Finally, we are learning to honor 
the God-given freedom. 

We have questioned Sharia, broken it down to personal and public Sharia, while holding on to the personal Sharia, which is how we pray and fast, and whole heartedly accepting the civil and criminals laws enshrined in our constitution as our only public law.  We are questioning the Hadiths, which contradict the essence of Quran and many of the hadiths do not meet the criteria of "Rahmatul Aalameen", Prophet Muhammad could not have said anything remotely close to some of the fake hadiths, that suit the right wingers among us but would not have met the requirements of common sense. 

What Tajikistan is doing is wrong – shaving beards does not unradicalize the men, and neither banning the Hijab will deradicalize women.  Humans can be suppressed with brutal power, but the pent up anger will explode one day.  Education stands a better chance of deradicalizing the individuals.

Extremism of any kind is bad; they swing the pendulum from one end to the other and never allow the stability and equilibrium in a given society.  We are generally familiar with religious extremists, now we see a new breed of secular extremists, who in the name of secularism have become tyrants, and want to impose their ideals on others.    

I am not sure swinging the pendulum to the other extreme will bring stability.  Unfortunately we have a bad example of Turkey, where Ataturk Mustafa Kemal Pasha forced people to be secular, which survived for nearly 80 years.  Will Turkey swing the other way? Time will tell.  

One of the few reasons for these problems is a loss of moderation – the prophet did not want us to be saints or completely materialistic, he wanted us to live a life of balance, i.e., enjoy the God given life while earning God’s grace, but never abandon present life for Akhira (life here after).  

I suggest the government of Tajikistan to abandon the impositions and bring prosperity to the people, and institute educational programs deradicalizing the individuals.  I will be happy to consult in building cohesive Islamic societies, where we can learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one us; and if we do that conflicts fade and solutions will emerge for effectively functioning societies.

Mike Ghouse
www.MuslimSpeaker.com =Dr. Mike Ghouse is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, and a speaker on PluralismInterfaithIslampolitics, 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.

Tajikistan 'fights radicalisation' by Shaving off 13,000 beards and shutting shops selling hijab:

Tajikistan fights radicalization | WorldMuslimCongress.com

January 23, 2016 - The Government of Jumhurii Tojikiston (Democratic nation of Tajikistan) has brutally imposed its way of life on her citizens by, "Shaving off 13,000 beards, shutting shops selling hijab: Tajikistan 'fights radicalisation' in Khatlon region of the country.
My advise to the government of  Tajikistan to abandon the impositions and institute educational programs to deradicalize individuals.  I will be happy to consult in building cohesive Islamic societies, where we learn to respect the otherness of others and accept the God given uniqueness of each one us, and if we do that conflicts fade and solutions will emerge for effectively functioning societies. 


My article will be available with the title, "Tajikistan fights radicalization"
Mike Ghouse

# # #

Shaving off 13,000 beards, shutting shops selling hijab: Tajikistan 'fights radicalisation'
DAWN.COM http://www.dawn.com/news/1234918 — UPDATED 15 MINUTES AGO
      
TAJIKISTAN: As part of an "anti-radicalisation campaign", police in the Khatlon region reportedly shaved the beards of 13,000 men and shut down 160 shops selling the hijab, reported BBC earlier this week.

According to the report, hundreds of thousands of men have been arrested in recent years for adopting mannerisms "alien and inconsistent with Tajik" culture — maintaining a beard is considered among the gravest of these offences.

The BBC interviewed nine men who said they had been detained in the street and forcibly taken to the police department for an arrest, or to a barber shop to be shaved.

Women are given their own prescriptions: their dress, the government has stated, must be in traditional Tajik colours. Black, the colour most commonly associated with the burqa, is automatically outlawed in these circumstances.

"Even in mourning, Tajik women [should] wear white, not black," President Emomali Rakhmon has warned the Tajiks.
Women have been told to "wear clothes of traditional colours and cut, not black." —AFP

The fear of 'alien values'
President Emomali Rahmon has been ruling the country since 1994 and is soon expected to approve a legislation that will promote secular values, which includes banning Arabic-sounding and "foreign" names officially.

With sections of the Middle East and Asia falling to extremism and militancy, the Central Asian states increasingly fear the spread of radicalisation.

Estimates suggest that between 1,500 and 4,000 Central Asians could have joined different militant groups in Syria, as of June 2015.

Women have been told to "wear clothes of traditional colours and cut, not black." —AFP
Women have been told to "wear clothes of traditional colours and cut, not black." —AFP
In response, countries like Tajikistan have launched official campaigns and taken measures that discourage Islamic cultural practices. In September last year, Tajikistan's Supreme Court banned the Islamic Renaissance Party, which is the only registered Islamic political party in the Muslim-majority country, Al Jazeera reported.

President Rakhmon has also warned Tajiks: "Don't worship alien values, don't follow alien culture. Wear clothes of traditional colours and cut, not black."

The fight for secular values
The fight to maintain secular values has affected men, women and children alike. The state has placed a ban on hijabs in all educational institutions, and state institutions follow the same rule.

Parents are discouraged from giving their children Arabic names, and are pressured to opt for more traditional and familiar Tajik names.

According to the BBC report, Tajik police said they shut down 160 shops that sold the hijab, and convinced over 1,500 women to stop wearing the Islamic code of dress.

In the south-west region of Khathlon, police reported that law enforcement agencies have successfully convinced over 1500 women to stop wearing headscarves.

Even though Tajikistan is a 99% Muslim, atheism was encouraged during 70 years of Soviet rule.

'Do not shave'

One man, Djovid Akramov, said he was outside his house with his seven-year-old son when the police intercepted him and rushed him to a station to remove his beard.


"They called me a Salafist, a radical, a public enemy," Djovid told the BBC. "And then two of them held my arms while another one shaved half of my beard."

Shaving off men's beards is not an unprecedented response to battling extremism, since growing a beard is a traditional Islamic practice.

The Taliban have particularly warned men against shaving their beards. In Pakistan, a barber shop in Buner was found with a 'do not shave' warning written across its front window, reportedly by militants.

Upper Dir Barbers in the town of Darora were also warned to stop shaving beards, the residents told Dawn in 2008. A threatening leaflet was circulated by a group of the Taliban, after which barbers stopped trimming and shaving beards completely.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What Can a Quarter of Unaffiliated US Population Find in Islam?

Given the fact that the new millennials are distancing from God,  the society will come up with a new God and it will possibly be close to the Universal God, Rabbul Aalameen as Quran calls it. Ultimately religions will be viewed as alternate vehicles that perform the same function, carry them through the life with least pain.

Mike Ghouse


abrahamic

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
To be sure, the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, and a large majority of Americans – roughly seven-in-ten – continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith.1 But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.[1]
Christians Decline as Share of U.S. Population; Other Faiths and the Unaffiliated Are Growing
For years, surveys have indicated that members of the youngest generation of adults in the U.S. are far less likely than older Americans to identify with a religious group. But a major new Pew Research Center survey finds that, as time goes on, the already-large share of religiously unaffiliated Millennial adults is increasing significantly.
A high percentage of younger members of the Millennial generation – those who have entered adulthood in just the last several years – are religious “nones” (saying they are atheists or agnostics, or that their religion is “nothing in particular”). At the same time, anincreasing share of older Millennials also identify as “nones,” with more members of that group rejecting religious labels in recent years.
Overall, 35% of adult Millennials (Americans born between 1981 and 1996) are religiously unaffiliated. Far more Millennials say they have no religious affiliation compared with those who identify as evangelical Protestants (21%), Catholics (16%) or mainline Protestants (11%).[2]
unaffiliated
Given these facts about Millennials it is reasonable to assume that in very near future more than a quarter of USA population will be unaffiliated.
No one religion or sect can cater for their spiritual or religious needs. They will chalk out their search for the Truth on their own.
It seems, every religion and sect presents a totalitarian understanding of our world with the exclusion of other traditions.  The unaffiliated by their very act of unaffiliation have shown a disdain for  such totalitarian views, monopolization of the truth and herd mentality and that they want a more personalized rather than a group understanding of religion and God.
Islam can offer them a better understanding of one God of Abrahamic faiths, if they choose not to focus on the noise of Shariah Law, Islamism or some other obsessions of some of the Muslims.
When asked if they believe in “God or a universal spirit” in the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study (RLS), 89% of U.S. adults say yes – down from 92% from the previous RLS  in 2007. Nearly one-in-ten (9%) now say they don’t believe in God, up from 5% in 2007.
The changes have been even more substantial when it comes to certainty of belief in God: 63% of Americans are absolutely certain that God exists, down 8 percentage points from 2007, when 71% said this.[3]
It seems Americans’ faith in God may be gradually eroding. The main issue for every seeker should always be a search for God.
The creed of Islam is “I bear witness that there is no god but (the One) God (Allah), and I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s messenger.”  Islam does not force any ideas on seekers of truth.  It accepts that the first step in the pursuit of the Truth is an understanding of Monotheism and belief in the prophethood of Muhammad, may peace be on him, is second to the all important issue of belief in One God.  For example, in one place in the Quran, it invites People of the Book to Divine unity with the exclusion of prophethood, as the first step towards fellowship and solidarity:
Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word, which is common between you and us — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God.’ (Al Quran 3:65)
Additionally, Allah promises salvation to the Muslims, the Christians and the Jews and others provided they believe in One God and accountability in the hereafter, if they follow their inner truth:
Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians — whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds — shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 2:63)
And:
Surely, those who have believed, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians — whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 5:70)
And:
As to those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Magians and the idolaters, verily, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection; surely Allah is Witness over all things. (Al Quran 22:18)
The boundaries between religions are blurring in our global village.  Just today it was reported: Francis may become first pope to visit Rome mosque.
The unaffiliated can benefit from all the Abrahamic traditions, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.
Many a physicists have made the case for a Creator God: Deism: Common between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, in the tremendous complexity and beautiful organization of our universe.
Once we believe in a Creator God, the only way we can know about Personal God is if He chooses to reveal himself through His prophets and there were several among the Jews and according to Islamic and Unitarian Christian understanding, Jesus was also a Jewish prophet until people started obsessing over him and made him into a man-God: Video: How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee.
Hope and Beauty
Hope & Beauty on the road to the Truth
If we accept the paradigm of prophethood rather than one of incarnation of the Divine in human form, then we can learn from any teacher or prophet, without the exclusion of those, which our group does not officially recognize or promote and in so doing we set ourselves on a journey of genuine wisdom and universal brotherhood and sisterhood.
Suggested Reading:
References