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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Republic Day Message

HAPPY REPUBLIC DAY
Mike Ghouse Jan 26, 2007


It is the 58th Anniversary of adopting the constitution of the Republic of India. One of the best constitutions around the World. We are not perfect, but we do have the makings and are proud and humble about it.

I am drawing inspiration from our form of Government, and God willing, I will write a paper on the Pluralistic Democracy of India, a model to emulate in the 21st Century and beyond infinity. It would be my tribute to my mother land- Maa Tujhe Salaam!

We are proud of our heritage - a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-regional and multi-linguistic society, where we have come to accept and respect every which way people have lived their lives. For over 5000 years, India has been a beacon of pluralism - it has embraced Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Baha’i and Zoroastrianism to include in the array of the indigenous religions; Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

India paved the way to the freedom movement, since 1947 every country has been liberated from colonialism. Indian democracy is a shining example to the world, where the people have peacefully transferred the powers. Indians are pluralistically secular and economically capitalistic. They believe in "live-and-let-live" life style, which is the essence of capitalism.

Through the years we have expressed the highest degree of maturity on handling extreme situations; the more divergent opinions we hear, the larger our heart grows, the bigger our embrace would be and we can cushion more differences. Let’s continue to honor the concept that there is always another side to the story, as finding the truth is our own responsibility.

I am proud of my heritage and am proud to be an Indian-American. Please join me in the discovery of India on a daily basis, as time permits and share the wealth of knowledge you have on this forum. You will really enjoy this rendering of our national anthem... so powerful and so patriotic... it is gripping, I keep listening time and again for the soothing effect it has on me.
Please enjoy it.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7399792002477900458

DallasIndians@yahoogroups.com is the information exchange center for the Indian community living in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex. The webgroup is all about our Culture, Events, Politics, Religion, Bollywood, Music, Achievements, Consular Services, Concerts and everything else that binds us.

Each Community is a Bus

Each community, each nation and each faith is like a beautiful bus; when you plan to go somewhere, you make sure all its tires have the same amount of air pressure for it to run effectively, to give better mileage, lasting tire wear..... all the mechanical parts must be greased, all the parts must be checked for a safe, stable and sure journey.
We need to work together to ensure that every one is on par to ride the road of progress, we need to fill the tire if the pressure is inadequate, instead of asking the tire to fill itself. Whose loss is it if the tire does not fill itself? We have to help the communities that are at a disadvantage. We need to bring them to a well balanced, smoothly functioning society. Ignoring one tire or a community is an irresponsible thing for the bus journey.

It is the responsibility of each person in the world to make a better world. Each day we need to ask ourselves, what have we done today to make the world a better place?

Peace and prosperity of our World hinges on justice and plurality, absence or deficiency of it will cause the BUS to slow down. It is in the interests of Community of the Nations to bring up the people in ditches on to a level playing field , and let them compete from that point forward. Imagine each community to be a tire of the bus, if all the tires have adequate air pressure, the smoothness of the journey is certain, assured and safe.

Each one of us needs to be the 'source' of go odwill to bring that equilibrium. You and I are not safe if the world around us isn't. All change begins with you and me. And I pledge that whatever I do, I will do it to bind people together, and will be a source of goodwill.

Try filling your heart with goodwill and fight with yourselves to remove any prejudice you may have..... some day, you would have changed the lives of at least a few people around you, but more than any one else, it will be you who will find boundless joy in yourselves. Be contagious with your freedom.

You are welcome to make your comments
Best wishes

Jai Hind


Mike Ghouse
www.MikeGhouse.net
www.FoundationforPluralism.com
www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
www.MikeGhouse.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

American Islam - A dialogue

An American Islam - A dialogue


Reza and Dan have made some good points. American form of governance has moved away from (in fact, it really wasn't) from Secular to a pluralistic democracy. Where accepting and respecting the uniqueness of each life style is norm. I particularly like one statement below, that Muslims see the American Value system - that of liberty, justice and treatment of individuals on par resonates with the values of Islam.

Even the idea of interest on loans is more in tune for many a Muslims (not all). Islam considers that one of the ills of a society is charging interest on monies borrowed. In American system we have usury laws to protect the borrower from getting cleaned out, like wise the interest that was forbidden was essentially the excessive usury form of interest. Very few Muslims are reluctant to borrow money on interest, but most do, even if Reza's stats are approximates, then 6 Million Muslims or at least 2 Million households translate into 1.2 Million Homes. Of that at least 1.0 Million homes are on loans with interest. All of this is pure guess though. But the number of Muslims I have known fall in that percentages.

The Muslim assimilation is far greater in the United States, Canada and India than any other country in the World. The freedom of this beautiful country is contagious. Muslims in America do not hesitate in questioning the traditions, they are not afraid to question anything they read.

Reza and Dan are right - An American Islam is on the horizon and will fully emancipate with the generation that is born and raised here. Culturally they are fully American and may have nominal association to their heritage. The sense of justice and equality that is imbued into Muslims is really fruitioning here. Muslims will be the first line of defense against any terrorism. No one wants to ruin a good life or let any one mess with it.

We have to work on an inclusive society. We at the World Muslim Congress are driven by the 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 the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah is Knows, Aware. Our mission is to work for a World of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed toward justice and equity to attain sustainable peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in truth.
Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator.
Islam does not claim monopoly to heavens, although we hear otherwise by some fanatics. Qur'aan, Sura An-Nisa 4:40 "Rest assured that God does not wrong anyone even by as much as an atom's weight. If someone does a good deed, He increases it many fold and will bestow out of His grace a mighty reward."

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse
www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
www.FoundationforPluralism.com
www.MikeGhouse.net


In a message dated 1/24/2007 9:50:31 P.M. Central Standard Time, lenxxxx@comcast.net writes:
Hi Mike,
Don't know if you had seen this .. . interesting for sure.
-Len
a different reference point by an American Muslim.
American IslamWhy Americans fear Muslims.By Reza Aslan and Daniel BenjaminUpdated Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007, at 2:05 PM ET
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------From: Daniel BenjaminTo: Reza AslanSubject: Will Islamic Radicalism Gain a Foothold in America?Posted Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007, at 10:35 AM ET

Reza—

One of the striking things about mainstream journalism in post-9/11 America has been the scant attention paid to the nation's Muslim community. There were, of course, plenty of stories on the many immigrants taken into detention after the terrorist attacks and on the questioning of large numbers of Muslims by law enforcement officials. But compared with the enormous amount of copy that newspapers devoted to the pederast priest scandals, the coverage of American Muslims has been seriously inadequate. Given the size and importance of the community—it's no understatement to say that it is the first line of defense against jihadist attack—the lack of reporting has been a dramatic failing of the American media.

There were a few exceptions, and one was a series of Page One stories that Paul M. Barrett wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2003. Those articles provided the basis for American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion, a book that fills a real need and does so remarkably well. (Full disclosure: Paul Barrett is an old friend and former colleague.) American Islam does not give us the entire picture of what is going on among believers of the nation's fastest-growing religion. Nothing could. But through a group of seven profiles, it delivers a set of powerful insights about Muslim life in the United States and the tensions that are shaping the community—or, more accurately, communities, since there is a fractious diversity of Muslims in the United States.

As you might imagine, American Islam is a study of people caught in the crosscurrents. Some are trying to navigate between the roles of dexterous insider and outraged outsider. Others are trying to push their fellow Muslims to adopt changes that are at odds with hundreds of years of tradition. Others still are re-litigating ancient struggles—such as between mysticism and orthodoxy—in a New World setting. Several are trying to champion a tolerant, ecumenical version of Islam against one that seems increasingly insular and xenophobic.

In that sense, the book poses the question that really is the central one not only for Muslims but all Americans: Is radicalism going to gain a real foothold here?

Barrett's carefully crafted approach is a smart one because of the paucity of sociological data on Islam in the United States. We don't even know how many Muslims there are in the country; the Census Bureau doesn't ask about religious affiliation. Estimates by Muslim groups put the number at 6 million or higher, but these are truly rough guesses; as Barrett notes, the best guess is between 3 and 6 million. The number of mosques is also a matter of dispute, as is the degree of religious observance within communities. Trying to get a sense of the relative strength of different strains of thought among American Muslims is maddeningly difficult.

So, instead of giving us unsubstantiated generalizations, Barrett looks closely at the micro-environments of his seven subjects. Among them are a colorful newspaper publisher of Lebanese Shiite origins who is a power broker in Michigan's large and politically influential Muslim community, and noted Kuwaiti-born scholar Khaled Abou el Fadl, who challenged fellow Muslims to speak out against the attacks of 9/11, becoming something of a pariah. A chapter on Siraj Wahhaj, a radical-leaning imam in Brooklyn, traces the complicated story of African-American Islam, whose adherents compose a fifth of the country's Muslim population but who have tense relations with Muslims of foreign ancestry, as well as attachments to figures such as Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan that are shared by no other Muslims.

In telling these stories, Barrett exercises great restraint, avoiding the temptation to generalize on the basis of individual experiences. The book—which I thought was a great read—does not overinterpret, letting the reader instead, for example, hear the unadorned story of Abdul Kabir Krambo, an American-born hippie-turned-Sufi whose faith gave him an anchor in life but not quite enough equanimity to deal with the foreign-born Muslims (he was " 'the token white guy' " on the board of his mosque) who don't always approve of his native ways. Krambo's mosque was destroyed by arson in 1994. The mystery of whether the attack was carried out by non-Muslim Americans or anti-Sufi Muslims provides a perfect example of the complex tensions that plague Barrett's characters.

Among scholars of terrorism these days, the accepted wisdom is that a major reason no second catastrophic attack on the United States has occurred is that the foot soldiers of jihad are not here—at least not in great numbers. Many Muslims in this country may be angry about U.S. foreign policy, but they are not alienated from American society or values. They are also more educated than the national norm, earn more than the norm, and are not ghettoized, as the Muslims of Europe are. ("American Muslims have bought into the American dream," my friend Marc Sageman, the author of Understanding Terror Networks, likes to say. "What is the European dream?")

But will it stay that way? One of the most moving chapters hints that it will. "The Activist" describes the trajectory of Mustafa Saied, an Indian-born Muslim who gravitates to the Muslim Brotherhood while in college and spends his time at rallies where the chant was "Idhbaahal Yahood" ("Slaughter the Jews"). He later renounces his extremism after intense conversation with other Muslims, one of whom persuades him that " 'the basic foundations of American values are very Islamic—freedom of religion, freedom of speech, toleration.' "

However, that there are some extremists afoot is clear from a chapter on Sami Omar al-Hussayen, the Saudi graduate student at the University of Idaho who was unsuccessfully prosecuted under the Patriot Act for giving material support to terrorists through his role as a Web master for a legal student group. The members of al-Hussayen's Islamic Assembly of North America are, at the very least, addicted to some deeply anti-American rhetoric, such as the writings of the "Awakening Sheikhs" of Saudi Arabia, Safar al-Hawali and Salman bin Fahd al-Awda.

I'm persuaded that America's culture of immigration has made a huge difference in shaping the attitudes of Muslims here. But other elements in the culture—rising Islamophobia, especially from the Christian right, and ham-handed law enforcement efforts, of the kind Barrett explores in his chapter on al-Hussayen—appear to be eroding some Muslims' sense of belonging. And, of course, there is our presence in Iraq, which appalls most American Muslims, including the Iraqi expats who once supported the invasion. Which way do you think the wind is blowing?

I'd also like your thoughts on one of the central themes of the book—that Islam, or at least one stream of it, is being remade by its encounter with America. This notion appears in several of Barrett's chapters, including the one on Asra Nomani, the former Journal reporter, single mother, and author of Standing Alone in Mecca, who confronted her hometown mosque in West Virginia with a determined campaign for equal treatment for women. In your superb book No god but God, you discuss the "Islamic Reformation" and mention, for example, European thinker Tariq Ramadan's contention that the synthesis of Islam and Western democratic ideals is driving the faith in that direction. Does Barrett's reportage suggest something similar is happening in the United States?

In any case, the changes that Barrett describes are encouraging. But as I think he would agree, it is impossible to say whether the stories he relates are indicative or isolated. What's your take?

Bests,Dan--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Reza AslanTo: Daniel BenjaminSubject: Assimilation and the Creation of a Uniquely American FaithPosted Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007, at 2:05 PM ET

Dan,

As I was reading American Islam, I was reminded of an incident that occurred last November in Washington, D.C., and got a lot of play in the American Muslim community. Jerry Klein, a popular radio host at WMAL-AM 630, suggested during one of his shows that Muslims in the United States should be forced to wear "identifying markers," specifically "a crescent moon arm band, or … a crescent moon tattoo." As one would expect, his phone lines were immediately jammed with listeners. Only they were not calling to excoriate Klein, but to agree wholeheartedly with him. One caller argued that American Muslims should not only be tattooed "in the middle of their foreheads," but that they should then be "rounded up and shipped out of the country." A Maryland caller concurred. "You have to set up encampments like they did during World War II," he said, "like with the Japanese and Germans."

Of course, what the callers did not realize was that Klein was joking. To his credit, he was horrified by his listeners' reactions, and said so on air. But perhaps Klein should not have been so surprised. According to recent polls, 39 percent of Americans want Muslims living in the United States to carry "special identification," and nearly half think their civil liberties should be curtailed in the name of national security. Roughly a third of those polled are convinced that the sympathies of America's Muslim community lies with al-Qaida, while a full 60 percent say they do not know any Muslims.

As a Muslim, I am obviously disturbed by these figures. But what I find particularly remarkable about these polls is that if the person being polled actually knows a Muslim, they are less likely to have negative perceptions of Islam. (By the way, I think that Barrett's estimate of how many Muslims currently live in America is low; more realistic, I suspect, are estimates of 6 million to 10 million.) It follows, then, that the best way to educate Americans about Islam is to introduce them to living, breathing American Muslims. That is precisely what makes Barrett's book such an engaging and important read. To my mind, this intimate group portrait of American Muslims is far more revealing than any of the half-dozen or so academic tomes that have been written on the subject over the last few years.

You are right to point out that the American Muslim community has, for the most part, managed to avoid many of the problems of identity and integration that plague Muslim communities in Europe. Barrett, like many social scientists, argues that this is partly due to economic factors. After all, the majority of European Muslims come from impoverished immigrant families, while the majority of Muslims in the United States are either middle-class converts or educated immigrants. Sixty percent of Muslims in the United States own their own homes. Believe it or not, the median income for a Muslim household in America is greater than it is for a non-Muslim household.

But as I read the individual profiles in American Islam, it became clear to me that it is more than mere economic factors that have allowed Muslims to so thoroughly assimilate into American society. (Maybe it is this assimilation that explains why so many Americans think they have never met a Muslim. Perhaps they assume all Muslims look and dress like Osama Bin Laden.)

Although Barrett does not press the point, I truly believe the ease with which Muslims have assimilated into American culture has less to do with economics than it does with America's long and storied history of assimilating different cultures and ethnicities under a single shared political and cultural ideal—an ideal we can label simply as Americanism. The Muslims who settled in Europe formed insulated ethnic enclaves cut off from the rest of European society. But American Muslims have seamlessly integrated into almost every level of American society. Indeed, they represent the most powerful argument against the prevailing "Clash of Civilizations" mentality that pits Islam against the West.

Finally, as a Muslim who lives in the United States and who has spent a great deal of time among Muslims in Europe, I can tell you that, more than anything else, it is the core American belief that faith has a role to play in the public realm that has allowed American Muslims to so seamlessly reconcile their faiths, cultures, and traditions with the realities of American life. Say what you will, this is not, nor has it ever been, a "secular" country. It is, in fact, the most religiously diverse and religiously tolerant nation in the world. In no other country—and certainly no Islamic country—can Muslims pursue their faith and practice in whatever way they see fit than in the United States. It is, in short, America itself that has made American Muslims so much more resistant to the pull of jihadism than their European counterparts.

This brings me to your excellent question regarding one of the central themes of Barrett's book. Is the Muslim encounter with the United States creating a new, American brand of Islam, much the way this country gave rise to new forms of Judaism and Catholicism? The short answer is yes. Just look at the Zaytuna Institute in Hayward, Calif., established by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, an American convert and one of the world's most respected authorities on Islamic law. Tired of Muslims in the United States being forced to import their imams from countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia—countries whose values and traditions are far removed from ours

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hinduism and American Pluralism.

HINDUISM & AMERICAN PLURALISM

Mike Ghouse

What role does Hinduism play in the emerging pluralistic society? The author Jakob De Roover explores it well in the following article (after my comments)

It is critical that, we the theists and the atheists get involved in the interfaith activities to begin with. To create a harmonious society, we ought to take the initiative and not wait for things to happen. We got to be involved in attending weddings, funerals, social events, dinners, festivities, birthdays etc. The more we know each other, the fewer problems we will have. We should not wait for others to stretch the hand, we need to get up and be a part of the system.

The Foundation for Pluralism was created to bring semblance to co-existence. It has taken the initiative to present all religions in its programs. The goal is to bring people of different faiths together and provide a platform for them to share about their beliefs, their systems and rituals, while expanding the knowledge zone of each group. The more we co-exist harmoniously, the brighter the future would be, for all.

There is nothing in it for me friends, except the joy of the Mukti from prejudices. I have put in a whole lot of money out of my pocket and spend hours and hours on these programs. I have not sought any business nor has any one given any. This is purely what I feel, I should do. As they say, it is my calling.

The radio programs that I did for years, and the programs I have done one KRLD and the 1360 Business Radio, in my newspaper I published or any event I have done, I have always included every faith with the intention of building bridges. Even the letters that I have written to Dallas Morning News, I have included other faiths. (The above two paragraphs are in response to two extremists who think I am doing this to promote my business, which I have not done in any of my emails. Thanks God, no one can say that they have given business to me because of this). My personal faith teaches me to honor every human that God has created. I do take a strong stand against those who are exclusivist and fascists. I am open to talking with extremists from all groups, because, ultimately Satyemeva Jayate.

We have set up this program to promote understanding; there will be one for each faith, a month.

We hope at least 10% of the attendees would walk out with an open mind and an open heart towards their fellow beings. It is difficult to shed the prejudices, but once we do, there is genuine freedom (Mukti, Moksha, Salvation, Nirvana.) in it.

UNDERSTANDING HINDUISM: Sunday, Feb 25, 2007 @6 PM Everything you wanted to know about Hinduism, you can learn about it in this workshop.

As with all faiths, misunderstandings, myths and mis-information are part of Hinduism as well. Learn about it. Learn about the diversity within the faith. The event is at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road, Addison, TX 75001. You MUST RSVP to: ConfirmAttendance@gmail.com

We have received 4 essays on Hinduism so far, and looking forward to more.
Several topics have been suggested by our readers, and all of them are good, and are worth discussing and learning and will be taken up. By the way, every one thinks their topic is the one to be talked about and I agree with them. We just have to queue them.

Caste System is the one of the most misunderstood aspects of Hinduism. I hope you’d agree with it. All of us need to learn so we can truly understand its range and depth from the scholars in Hinduism. It is an open program.

When we put Sharia as the topic to learn about Islam – The same question was asked by Muslims around, Why Sharia? The answer remains the same.

No matter what topic you pick, the questions will be the same and answer would be the same. If you have 40 hours a week to listen to all the topics, we can do a weeklong seminar… no one has the time. We can only chew one item at a time and ... just a few people at a time can do that.
One of the things all of us need to work on is “Not to assume and ascribe ill-intent to any step that any one takes to understand an issue”.

Essay does not ask for anything in specific, it simply calls for every one’s understanding of Hinduism. During the program our scholars will be addressing any question including Caste system or other questions that may come up in the 30 minutes time we have as a part of the program.

To do full justice - we need a whole day. How many will come? We just have to learn to be precise.

Mike Ghouse
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/
http://www.worldmuslimcongress.com/
www.MikeGhouse.net

Paganism and American Pluralism

The India Forum has published an article by Jakob De Roover (a post-doc fellow at Ghent University) concerning the future of "pagans" from India (or NRIs Non-Resident Indians) within the context of American pluralism. De Roover points out that the American idea of pluralism (the affirmation and acceptance of diversity) is strongly rooted in Protestant Christianity and will not accept non-monotheistic "pagans" easily."...the American model of pluralism is unable to accommodate these pagan traditions.

This is the case, because its structure has emerged from a co-existence of Protestant denominations. Maximally, the resulting model could encompass other variants of the religions of the book: Catholicism, Judaism and Islam. Incorporating the pagan traditions of India, however, will require a fundamental rethinking of American pluralism.

"De Roover uses the California Hindu textbook controversy as an example of the problems facing the religious accommodation of Hindus in America, and shows how the American version of pluralism tries to make non-monotheistic religions reshape into a more recognizable Protestant form.

"The structure of American pluralism and the nature of the Hindu traditions give rise to two options. These options present themselves as routes that can be traveled by the NRI community in the coming years. On the one hand, the pagan traditions of India could renounce their true nature and transform themselves into variants of biblical religion. Then they will soon fit in as well in the American model of pluralism as the Jews and Muslims. On the other hand, these pagan traditions can remain true to their nature and explicitly represent themselves as completely different from the religions of the book. Then they will turn into a major challenge to American pluralism: the very structure of this model will require rethinking in order to accommodate the Hindu traditions.

"According to the article, the route taken by prominent American Hindu groups is one of transformation in order to make themselves less "pagan" seeming."

A limited number of foundations have been appointed (or have appointed themselves) as the representatives of the Hindu traditions in the U.S.: the Hindu American Foundation and the Vedic Foundation are most prominent. These foundations play according to the rules of the notions of church and religion that are intrinsic to American pluralism. They challenge the unfair portrayal of the Hindu traditions in the American educational system. But they do so in a manner which advances the transformation of these traditions into inferior variants of Christianity.

They intend to present the true doctrines of Hinduism and do so by making it look respectable to American Protestants. That is, the many devatas are transformed into different ways of worshiping the one true God. Hinduism becomes a proper monotheistic faith. A variety of pagan Indian traditions are excluded because they are embarrassing to the sanitized biblical model of American pluralism.

"This discussion is hugely important, not only for Hindus living in America, but for the variety of modern Pagan faiths and traditions. In fact this very discussion has been ongoing in our community in debates over Pagan participation in Unitarian-Universalism and other congregational models. Do we retain our essential "pagan-ness" or do we, over time, slowly mold into an more acceptable form so that we can reap the benefits of the more mainstream monotheistic faiths? If congregational models become the "mainstream" of modern Paganism, are they even "pagan" any longer?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Modesty, not monopoly

Modesty is not any one's monopoly


In this last one year, so much was written about Burn the Burqa, Women's rights, Sania's dress and Ms. Adelah. Then the phrase "Men giving rights to women" came into being. Who are they to give the rights? Every one is born with their own rights.

I just came across this news item from Israel. The Rabbis in Israel actually certify the stores that carry modest clothing for women and in fact, the orthodox women are not allowed to shop at the non-certified stores. Even in the United States, last year, a certain hair pieces were declared "not fit" and many Jewish women did not purchase those hair pieces.

Modesty is not the monopoly of any group. All societies go through that. Every February, India makes headlines on property destruction and harassment of people who want to celebrate Valentine. There were huge protest in India when ABC was hosting the Ms. World in Bangalore. I am not sure if some women really doused themselves in fire or not but they were demanding modesty.

The more you know, the more you find all people are alike - within that all, we have streaks of orthodoxy and liberals. Most people are moderate, middle of the path.

Mike Ghouse
http://www.mikeghouse.net/

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=812103

Last update - 13:16 11/01/2007
'Bleach Underground' campaigns against immodest clothing in Bnei Brak

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=812374

By Yair EttingerMonday afternoon, and the traffic on Rabbi Akiva Street comes to a halt. Thousands of men, including several Torah sages and their entourages, advance slowly down the main Bnei Brak traffic artery in the funeral procession of the spiritual leader of the Tsanz Zmigrad Hasidic sect. Passersby watch the procession, but after it moves on, the street returns to its usual fast pace.

The Avivit Weizman boutique is hopping. It seems like nothing can distract the shoppers from the end-of-season sale - not the rabbis who did not include this "fashion house" on the new approved list and not the Bleach Underground, which recently started operating in Bnei Brak and harms women who deviate from the ultra-Orthodox dress code. In the last week, apparently for the first time in the history of rabbinical supervision, Bnei Brak rabbis distributed a list of 30 stores with a stamp of approval, as places where ultra-Orthodox women are allowed to shop.

The list was distributed to all the teachers and students at the ultra-Orthodox school system for girls, Beit Yaakov, and was plastered on poster boards across town. The rabbis also took the opportunity to emphasize the prohibition against women and girls wearing "immodest dress." They don't mean tight-fitting shirts or pants, but long shirts, skirts and dresses the rabbis feel deviate from the permissible. No sanctions will be imposed on the "unkosher" stores, but the message is clear: The ultra-Orthodox woman should not enter.

Ezra Weizman, who manages the Avivit Weizman boutique with his wife, said representatives of the rabbis offered him supervision, but their demands were too extreme. "Had it been realistic, we might have compromised, but they excluded almost everything we sell. There was no room to negotiate," Weizman explained. What does the stamp of approval include? Miri, the owner of an eponymous clothing store, earned approval, but only after she removed a substantial portion of her goods from the shelves. "Anything made from jersey, spandex and denim is prohibited," she explains.

The rabbis' inspectors granted her their stamp of approval after making sure all the skirts and dresses fell well below the knee, too. However, a visit to some of the unapproved stores reveals that the rabbis' instructions didn't make much of an impression on shoppers. Weizman said he hasn't seen anything that hurt sales. "Everyone knows the truth: Those who don't buy from me will buy at the Ayalon Mall." Modesty has always been a serious subject among the ultra-Orthodox public, but the latest holy war focuses not just on the immodesty of secular women in Haredi population concentrations, but on the Haredi women themselves. In an ever-growing ultra-Orthodox community (in part due to immigration from Europe and North America), designer clothes are a common dream.

The Bnei Brak and Jerusalem wealthy are not about to be left behind and in recent years, boutique clothing stores have sprung up in both locales. The sleeves may be the right length, but the cuts and fabrics give the conservatives the jitters. Violence in Mea She'arim In Jerusalem, the response went further than just the Mea She'arim poster warning against "the Parisian designer getting his nails into us," to acts of violence. A clothing store near Shabbat Square was recently set on fire, while Geula neighborhood patrols are armed with containers of bleach to damage the clothing of women who break the dress code. It is not clear how organized the patrols are, but an elected Haredi official in Jerusalem recently complained to the police of an "atmosphere of terror in the streets." He called on the police to intervene. Bnei Brak also has a local Bleach Underground.

The desire to be fashionable exacted a price from Bnei Brak resident D.: "At the end of a day around town I discovered three large bleach stains on my new skirt," she reconstructed. "The next day I heard from friends that women with syringes and baby bottles are spraying bleach on clothing they don't like for some reason." According to D., her sin was that her "skirt was pretty, not particularly short." Several respected rabbis weighed in on the matter last week, writing, "Recently a variety of foreign garb has spread among the women and girls; this is immodest clothing.

Knitted fabrics are not appropriate for daughters of Israel." At that time, the list of dozens of approved stores was published. Miri reports an increase in sales. "Mothers thank me for the seal of approval. In the past few years, our girls have tried to imitate secular girls. They started wearing low-waisted skirts with short-waisted sweaters. It was not modest or appropriate for our society." "They want to turn Bnei Brak into Mea She'arim," complained one shopper in line to pay at Avivit Weizman. "I don't understand why rabbis have to intervene in everything." D., the Bleach Underground victim who considers herself "modern ultra-Orthodox," won't be deterred from fashionable clothing. "I don't think most of the public will listen."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ayodhya - Layers

Ayodhya is an extremely sensitive issue.

Most Indians see it objectively and fairly, there are a few, just a few
Hindu & Muslim fanatics, who would like to see this divide us more.

Nope's. No issue is going to divide us. The extremists can fool some
but not all Indians.

In 1853, the Governor General of India, Lord some one wrote to
to his majesty King. "Hindus and Muslims have come together again
and have built the Ram Chabootra" this means the end of Raj. (It is
in one of the British Gazettes that I have seen when I did a radio
show on the topic in 2001. It was covered by Dallas Observer
as a lead story. I will find the piece and post it.)

You know what they did, when Muslims and Hindus came
together - initiated the pork and beef fat to go into rifles to divide
us again, it failed. Then in 1871 they created a census, the first of
its kind to divide us again, it failed. It will fail again and again in
the process we will lose precious lives, who knows which one would have
become an Indira Nooyi, Ambani, Bhatia or a Premji...The goons who
create this mess are hurting our nation and they will be long gone.
One nation under God with liberty and justice for all.
Till then we have to put up with fanatics on both sides.

All notes that will help us build a cohesive India will be appreciated
Legitimate national press articles will be posted, not the gossip
and tabloids. I value your opinion more than the one propagated
by the tabloids.

Absolutely no hate mail will be posted on this group.
It is our duty to build things and not destroy. What we see
is not necessarily the truth. Finding the truth is one's own
responsibility. Truth brings relief.


Jai Hind.
Mike Ghouse

AyodhyaLayers of truthASI report, hinting at a Siva temple beneath the Masjid, could debunk Janmabhoomi claim


By R. Prasannan

Yes, there certainly was a 10th century shrine where Babri Masjid stood. Apparently, it was not a Ram temple. It appears to have been a Siva temple.That, in brief, is what the Archaeological Survey of India, risking its 142-year-old reputation, has told the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court which had ordered an excavation of the Ayodhya site.

Artist's impression of the Babri Masjid and the excavated site with conjectured columns; (below left) the bricks for the proposed Ram temple

Then, what about the Ram temple? There is no mention of a temple, only of evidence of a massive structure, fragments of which speak about their association with temple architecture of the Saivite style. "During the early mediaeval period (11th-12th century AD) a huge structure, nearly 50 metres in north-south orientation was constructed which seems to have been short-lived." On the remains of this "was constructed a massive structure with at least three structural phases and three successive floors attached with it. The architectural members of the earlier short-lived massive structure with stencil cut foliage pattern and other decorative motifs were reused in the construction of the monumental structure having a huge pillared hall (or two halls) which is different from residential structures, providing sufficient evidence of a construction of public usage....

It was over the top of this construction during the early 16th century that the disputed structure [Babri Masjid] was constructed, directly resting over it." This 'summary of results' is likely to please the temple votaries, but the details in the preceding chapters are unlikely to please devotees of Ram or Rahim. Least of all, the world of archaeologists. The team led by Hari Majhi and B.R. Mani seems to be worried more about peers. Apparently anticipating academic criticism and an assault on the ASI's credibility, they have explained that they "excavated 90 trenches in a limited time of five months, soon after which the excavation report is required to be submitted within 15 days.

This is an unprecedented event in the history of 142 years of the existence of the Survey." What the excavators claim to have found was nothing startling. Remnants of a 10th century shrine had been unearthed earlier, but the ASI digging has confirmed the existence of "a partly damaged east-facing brick shrine" which "is a circular structure". The shrine looks similar to the Chirenath temple at Sravasti or the Saivite temples of Rewa in Madhya Pradesh. Only one Vaishnavite temple is reported to be similar. "On stylistic grounds the present circular shrine can be dated to the 10th century AD when the Kalachuris moved in this area and settled across the Sarayu. They possibly brought the tradition of stone circular temples".

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad too had been talking of a Siva temple but had dated it to the 7th century. In fact, on August 12, the VHP, based on their observers' report, had admitted to there having been a Siva temple. But "immediately above it there exists a wide brick wall belonging to Temple 1 of early mediaeval period (8-9th century)." VHP had also been claiming that the early mediaeval temple's walls collapsed and a second temple was built in the 12th century. And it was over the floor of the second temple that the Babri Masjid was built. The VHP can also claim victory from the mention of some construction activity during the early mediaeval period. "In this deposit, foundations to support pillars of columns were sunk, which were overlaid with a 4-5 cm thick floor which had a grid of square sandstone bases for pillars projecting out, only a few still survive".

The VHP is likely to claim that these pillars supported a grand Ram temple which was demolished by Babar. B.B. Lal, whose Ramayana site excavations in the 1970s started it all, had also talked about these pillar bases. However, D. Mondal questions this, saying that these pillar bases would have been unable to support "load-bearing pillars of stone". Mondal also says that the pillar bases are not contemporaneous, but belong to different structural phases. In other words, they were not built together as base pillars of one superstructure, ("a grand 10th century temple," as BJP president Venkaiah Naidu claimed) but belonged to different periods when they supported different superstructures.

The anti-VHP historians are now likely to argue, as they have done earlier, that these pillar bases had small pillars which supported smaller non-shrine structures such as houses and shops and not a grand temple of carved stone. The confirmation of the existence of a Saivite shrine is likely to start a new debate. Was the "massive structure" built over the debris of a Siva temple? Non-VHP historians are likely to use this to argue that the story about the area being the birthplace of Ram was a later myth. What about the temple claimed to have been built by Vikramaditya which should pre-date the Siva temple?

The only structural pointer to this in the report is the reference to the remnants of Gupta period walls. It says that one of the temple's walls rests on a still earlier wall, datable to Gupta and post-Gupta periods. Remnants of a still earlier wall, dating to the Kushana period, too have been found. One can argue till Ramrajya comesÑor till some miraculous piece of evidence surfacesÑthat this was a Ram temple. In that case, did the Kalachuris or their descendants build a Siva temple over a Ram temple? And someone in 10th, 11th or 12th century build a Ram temple over the Siva temple? This will probably never be answered archaeologically. The dispute then is going be less archaeological and more historical. Historians like Sarvepalli Gopal and Vinay Lal had argued that Ayodhya of the epic is fictional. According to them, Emperor Skanda Gupta (who also styled himself as Vikramaditya) renamed Saketa as Ayodhya in a bid to gain prestige for himself as a descendant of Ram of the epic.

If the VHP is going to be uncomfortable with the finding of a Saivite shrine, the Muslims are likely to question the ASI's unstated conclusion that it was a Hindu shrine that stood there during the sultanate period. It is pieces of evidence like a square slab with Srivatsa motif and the fragment of a lotus medallion motif from 10th to 12th centuries that has led the excavators to conclude that they could be associated with temple architecture.

However, historians like Irfan Habib have been claiming that there was Muslim habitation in the area during this period. Earlier excavations had unearthed animal bones and even human remains which could not have been there if the place was indeed a temple. Presence of animal bones, they had been arguing, meant that it was a residential area (and not a shrine) inhabited by a non-vegetarian community. And that it was in that Muslim habitat that a mosque was raised in 1528 or thereafter. The ASI report mentions the bones, but does not explain how they came to be there.

BURDEN OF PROOF:

ASI lawyer Ravi Malhotra with the excavation report Nor is there much mention of glazed pottery from the Sultanate period. Both sides are likely to fill this gap with their theories. The Hindu side could argue that the paucity of Sultanate pottery and ceramics show that the site was 'religiously' Hindu during this period. The Muslims could say that the archaeologists overlooked the culture and structural activity of an entire half millennium and hence the report is incomplete or motivated. The presence of brick-and mortar belonging to Sultanate period also is likely to be a point of debate. (Incidentally, even the Saivite shrine of the immediate pre-Islamic period is found to be a brick structure, and by no means a grand carved stone temple.)

The Muslims are likely to argue that brick-and-mortar is evidence of there having been another mosque in the Sultanate period within a habitat of a meat-eating people. Babar probably renovated this mosque. Whichever way the court decides the matter (the findings may be immaterial to the title suit which is about deciding who owns a piece of property), it is clear that ASI would have to go on answering peer questions.

There are already allegations that standard archaeological practices were ignored. The ASI would have to face questions about the non-existence of any huge amount of stone debris (from the pulled down temple) and even the absence of remnants of a stone workshop (where the stones for the mediaeval temple could have been carved). It may take the next 142 years to answer them.

Mirth and mistrustBy Ajay Uprety

The diggers have dug up controversy. The ASI's 'discovery' of "distinctive features associated with... temples of north India" beneath the demolished Babri Masjid in Ayodhya has irked Muslim leaders and spread joy in the saffron camp. The Muslim leaders are upset since they feel the ASI did not do a thorough job. They suspect that the men with spades were trying to please someone.

The Sunni Central Waqf Board, a party to the temple-mosque dispute, has termed the ASI report "vague and self-contradictory". The All India Muslim Personal Law Board angrily called it 'fabricated'. Zafaryab Jilani, convener of the Babri Masjid Action Committee, said the report would naturally be challenged in court.

A 14-member expert team had been asked to study the findings, he said. In the three interim reports, the ASI did not mention the existence of a temple-like structure. "How come this sudden revelation?" asked Hashim Ansari, head of the Babri Masjid Reconstruction Committee. Despite misgivings and heartburn, most leaders affirmed that they had faith in the judiciary. The ASI report has, however, emboldened the VHP.Hardliners such as Ram Vilas Vedanti have asked Muslims to accept the fact that a temple existed in the spot. They should hand over the disputed shrines at Mathura and Kashi as well, he said.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Burn the Burqa

BURN THE BURQA
Mike Ghouse Jan 14, 2007

Taslima Nasrin’s article has appeared in Outlook India magazine and is produced below. I have been inundated with requests to comment on the article.

Taslima is a rebellious writer and raises her voice when something appears unjust to her, and that is the right thing to do, to speak up. As a civilized society, we must be open to new ideas and thoughts raised by members of society.

When Passion of the Christ was released, members of the Jewish community were wary of the release, fearing an increase in anti-Semitism. A Swedish newspaper printed cartoons viewed by some as disparaging of the Prophet Muhammad in their newspapers, causing a disruptive few to create havoc around the globe in the name of Islam. When the movie
Water was released, Deepa Mehta was criticized for her portrayal of widowed girls going into prostitution. In fact, the movie was shot in Sri Lanka as the cast and crew was vandalized by a few in the name of Hindu faith in Varnasi. President Carter has released a book linking apartheid to the treatment of Palestinians in Israel. This stance has caused outrage as well.

No society or a culture is ever perfect. These are the dynamic values constantly changing with interaction within and without the various societies and sub-cultures. Screaming at Taslima, Deepa, Mel or President Carter will not make the problem go away.

There is always another point of view. Taslima has raised some legitimate points, while some of the items she has mentioned have no basis for it.

Modesty is part of every culture be it Indian, Middle Eastern, Hindu, Muslim, Christian or American… any way you cut it, modesty is always a part of a persons life and culture. No matter how liberal a family is, an Indian Hindu girl or an American teen would be asked (or told) by her parents to show a modicum in her dress when in public.

The American public has no qualms in showing kissing and close encounters in the movies, whereas the Indian threshold does not allow that. If Aishwariya Roy kissed every hero in her movies, she will be treated as a slut by all Indians, and most likely Abhishek Bachan’s family would not have consented to his marrying her.

Each society has a threshold, a level of acceptance within. A Punjabi girl (Hindu, Sikh or any one) would be reluctant to show off her belly and bosom than a girl from other parts of the country. Even living in the United States, how many parents would allow their daughter to wear bare minimum and be in the public?

Within Muslim families, there are different levels of threshold, remember, it has to do with culture, more so than religion (I will attend to it below). You might relate with different levels of thresholds within your own traditions be it Parsee, Jain, Buddh, Sikh, Christian, Jew or Hindu. In my family, we hugged every time some one is happy or sad, in some families they just don’t do that, there is nothing wrong or right about it, it is just a different practice and how members of the families respond to and accept it. The customs and rituals with your own in-laws differ.

Reformers

Taslima has few qualities of a reformer and I admire that. Two years ago, when I was responding to her, I asked myself, how would my mentors have handled it? Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa understood that people just don’t change because you tell them to. Mahatma Gandhi did not order around people to change, instead he became a part of the people whom he wanted to bring the change. He gave up his western clothing, and luxurious lifestyle. He took to wearing the simple clothing, stitched out of homespun cloth, so that the masses could relate to him. He ate the simplest food, so that even the poorest of poor people could feel on par with him. Mother Teresa did not order the volunteers to go take care of the lepers; she became part of the leper colony and brought about the change. Neither Mother Teresa, nor Mahatma Gandhi wanted publicity; they simply went about doing things that brought the results.

Taslima bombs herself out with her approach. She “tells” the women to drop or burn the Burqa as it is an instrument of oppression. No woman (no matter what faith) will reduce down the amount of clothing on her body because some one tells them to. My sister would not wear a mini-skirt even if I asked her to –even my daughter who was born and raised here would not do that, they are not comfortable with it. I can assure you, it is the same case with your own family. A woman who has worn the Burqa will not drop it or burn it – she will feel bare. If I tell you that I don’t like the way you eat and you must change, what are the chances of happening that?

Change has to come gradually, little by little. One must be comfortable with it; you just cannot give up what is part of you. Taslima fails to understand that or she is simply seeking fame by attacking other people’s practices. If she really wants change, she ought to consider becoming a part of the society and effecting the changes drip by drip.

Religious Angle

Qur’aan does prescribe modesty for both men and women, which is not the same as Purdah understood by Taslima. I don’t blame her for her misunderstandings; the entire Muslim community is waking up to the wrong translations of Qur’aan. Please review the power point on
APOLOGY at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com . As the Bhagvad Gita say “finding the truth is one’s own responsibility” . To help Taslima understand the Qur’aan better, I will send her the 15 different translations of Qur’aan so she can take the time to learn that it is not the Qur’aan, it is the translation that has the problem.

Taslima challenges Shabana Azmi’s assertion that Burqa is not mentioned in Qur’aan and quotes the following verse. "Tell the faithful women that they must keep their gaze focused below/on the ground and cover their sexual organs. They must not put their beauty and their Jewelry on display. They must hide their breasts behind Purdah. They must not exhibit their beauty to anybody except their husbands, brothers, nephews, womenfolk, servants, eunuch employees and children. They must not move their legs briskly while walking because then much of their bodies can get exposed." (Sura Al Noor 24:31)
I don’t know where she got the above translation, here is another translation of the same verses and I have included a few more at the bottom.

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.”

Shabana Azmi is right in her assertion that “Burqa” in its present form was not in Qur’aan. However it has become a part of the Culture, as Taslima pointed out that it was practiced before Islam. Modesty is preached by all religions – each family decides its own threshold. My sister or my daughter will never wear clothing of Karishma Kapoor and most likely your family follows the same guidelines whether you are a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, and Sikh, or any faith.

The origins of Burqa she has quoted comes from a source that I am not familiar with. There are plenty of magazines and secret books written by people to demean customs and religions, you will find those books maligning every faith and religion.

Burqa as it is worn today is not prescribed in Qur’aan. Modesty is prescribed as any culture and society would. However, the practice has been around for a long time and for some women it is forced upon by their parents or husbands, but for most, it is their comfort zone and the women wear it of their own volition. We should resist and condemn any thing that is forced upon a people. However, if a woman is comfortable in a Burqa or Bikini, let it be her choice. It is neither backward nor forward; it is just their comfort zone.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, speaker and a writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith issues. He has appeared on the local affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and FOX. He founded the
World Muslim Congress on the belief we all have to live together and we might as well enjoy living it. He believes if people can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, conflicst fade and solutions emerge. His articles can be found at http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/ , and http://mikeghouse.blogspot.com/
Mike can be reached at
MikeGhouse@gmail.com.
© Copyright 2007 by Mike Ghouse

BURN THE BURQA
By Taslima Nasrin
http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20070122&fname=Col+Taslima+%28F%29&sid=1&pn=1

My mother used purdah. She wore a burqa with a net cover in front of the face. It reminded me of the meatsafes in my grandmother's house. One had a net door made of cloth, the other of metal. But the objective was the same: keeping the meat safe. My mother was put under a burqa by her conservative family. They told her that wearing a burqa would mean obeying Allah. And if you obey Allah, He would be happy with you and not let you burn in hellfire. My mother was afraid of Allah and also of her own father. He would threaten her with grave consequences if she didn't wear the burqa. She was also afraid of the men in the neighbourhood, who could have shamed her. Even her husband was a source of fear, for he could do anything to her if she disobeyed him. As a young girl, I used to nag her: Ma, don't you suffocate in this veil? Don't you feel all dark inside? Don't you feel breathless? Don't you feel angry? Don't you ever feel like throwing it off? My mother kept mum. She couldn't do anything about it. But I did.

When I was sixteen, I was presented a burqa by one of my relatives. I threw it away. The custom of purdah is not new. It dates back to 300 BC. The women of aristocratic Assyrian families used purdah. Ordinary women and prostitutes were not allowed purdah. In the middle ages, even Anglo-Saxon women used to cover their hair and chin and hide their faces behind a cloth or similar object. This purdah system was obviously not religious. The religious purdah is used by Catholic nuns and Mormons, though for the latter only during religious ceremonies and rituals. For Muslim women, however, such religious purdah is not limited to specific rituals but mandatory for their daily life outside the purview of religion.

A couple of months ago, at the height of the purdah controversy, Shabana Azmi asserted that the Quran doesn't say anything about wearing the burqa. She's mistaken. This is what the Quran says:

"Tell the faithful women that they must keep their gaze focused below/on the ground and cover their sexual organs. They must not put their beauty and their jewellery on display. They must hide their breasts behind a purdah. They must not exhibit their beauty to anybody except their husbands, brothers, nephews, womenfolk, servants, eunuch employees and children. They must not move their legs briskly while walking because then much of their bodies can get exposed." (Sura Al Noor 24:31) "Oh nabi, please tell your wives and daughters and faithful women to wear a covering dress on their bodies. That would be good. Then nobody can recognise them and harrass them. Allah is merciful and kind." (Sura Al Hijaab 33: 59)

Even the Hadis?a collection of the words of Prophet Mohammed, his opinion on various subjects and also about his work, written by those close to him?talks extensively of the purdah for women. Women must cover their whole body before going out, they should not go before unknown men, they should not go to the mosque to read the namaaz, they should not go for any funeral.

There are many views on why and how the Islamic purdah started. One view has it that Prophet Mohammed became very poor after spending all the wealth of his first wife. At that time, in Arabia , the poor had to go to the open desert and plains for relieving themselves and even their sexual needs. The Prophet's wives too had to do the same. He had told his wives that "I give you permission to go out and carry out your natural work". (Bukhari Hadis first volume book 4 No. 149). And this is what his wives started doing accordingly. One day, Prophet Mohammed's disciple Uman complained to him that these women were very uncomfortable because they were instantly recognisable while relieving themselves. Umar proposed a cover but Prophet Mohammed ignored it. Then the Prophet asked Allah for advice and he laid down the Ayat (33:59) (Bukhari Hadis Book 026 No. 5397).

This is the history of the purdah, according to the Hadis. But the question is: since Arab men too relieved themselves in the open, why didn't Allah start the purdah for men? Clearly, Allah doesn't treat men and women as equals, else there would be purdah for both! Men are higher than women. So women have to be made walking prisons and men can remain free birds.

Another view is that the purdah was introduced to separate women from servants. This originates from stories in the Hadis. One story in the Bukhari Hadis goes thus: After winning the Khyber War, Prophet Mohammed took over all the properties of the enemy, including their women. One of these women was called Safia. One of the Prophet's disciples sought to know her status. He replied: "If tomorrow you see that Safia is going around covered, under purdah, then she is going to be a wife. If you see her uncovered, that means I've decided to make her my servant."The third view comes from this story. Prophet Mohammed's wife Ayesha was very beautiful. His friends were often found staring at her with fascination. This clearly upset the Prophet. So the Quran has an Ayat that says, "Oh friends of the prophet or holy men, never go to your friend's house without an invitation. And if you do go, don't go and ask anything of their wives". It is to resist the greedy eyes of friends, disciples or male guests that the purdah system came into being. First it was applicable to only the wives of the holy men, and later it was extended to all Muslim women.

Purdah means covering the entire body except for the eyes, wrist and feet. Nowadays, some women practise the purdah by only covering their hair. That is not what is written in the Hadis Quran. Frankly, covering just the hair is not Islamic purdah in the strict sense.In the early Islamic period, Prophet Mohammed started the practice of covering the feet of women. Within 100 years of his death, purdah spread across the entire Middle East . Women were covered by an extra layer of clothing. They were forbidden to go out of the house, or in front of unknown men. Their lives were hemmed into a tight regime: stay at home, cook, clean the house, bear children and bring them up. In this way, one section of the people was separated by purdah, quarantined and covered.

Why are women covered? Because they are sex objects. Because when men see them, they are roused. Why should women have to be penalised for men's sexual problems? Even women have sexual urges. But men are not covered for that. In no religion formulated by men are women considered to have a separate existence, or as human beings having desires and opinions separate from men's. The purdah rules humiliate not only women but men too. If women walk about without purdah, it's as if men will look at them with lustful eyes, or pounce on them, or rape them. Do they lose all their senses when they see any woman without burqa?

My question to Shabana and her supporters, who argue that the Quran says nothing about purdah is: If the Quran advises women to use purdah, should they do so? My answer is, No. Irrespective of which book says it, which person advises, whoever commands, women should not have purdah. No veil, no chador, no hijab, no burqa, no headscarf. Women should not use any of these things because all these are instruments of disrespect.

These are symbols of women's oppression. Through them, women are told that they are but the property of men, objects for their use. These coverings are used to keep women passive and submissive. Women are told to wear them so that they cannot exist with their self-respect, honour, confidence, separate identity, own opinion and ideals intact. So that they cannot stand on their own two feet and live with their head held high and their spine strong and erect.

Some 1,500 years ago, it was decided for an individual's personal reasons that women should have purdah and since then millions of Muslim women all over the world have had to suffer it. So many old customs have died a natural death, but not purdah. Instead, of late, there has been a mad craze to revive it. Covering a woman's head means covering her brain and ensuring that it doesn't work. If women's brains worked properly, they'd have long ago thrown off these veils and burqas imposed on them by a religious and patriarchal regime.
What should women do? They should protest against this discrimination. They should proclaim a war against the wrongs and ill-treatment meted out to them for hundreds of years. They should snatch from the men their freedom and their rights. They should throw away this apparel of discrimination and burn their burqas.
(Nasrin, a Bangladeshi writer, currently lives in Calcutta )


A few more translations:

Sarwar : Tell the believing woman to cast down their eyes, guard their chastity, and not to show off their beauty except what is permitted by the law. Let them cover their breasts with their veils. They must not show off their beauty to anyone other than their husbands, father, father-in-laws, sons, step-sons, brothers, sons of brothers and sisters, women of their kind, their slaves, immature male servants, or immature boys. They must not stamp their feet to show off their hidden ornaments. All of you believers, turn to God in repentance so that perhaps you will have everlasting happiness.

Free Mind : And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and keep covered their private parts, and that they should not show-off their beauty except what is apparent, and let them cast their shawls over their cleavage. And let them not show-off their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or the sons of their brothers, or the sons of their sisters, or their children that come after them, or those who are still their dependants, or the male servants who are without need, or the child who has not yet understood the composition of women. And let them not strike with their feet in a manner that reveals what they are keeping hidden of their beauty. And repent to God, all of you believers, that you may succeed.

Yusuf Ali : And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dialogue

You might want to ponder how most of the problems of the world will wither away, just from the words we use.

  1. All the wars have begun with exchange of harsh words.
  2. Much of blame on soured relations between family and friends can be attributed to wrong choice of the words.
  3. Much of the world problems have grounding in Words - What Pat Roberston says can infuriate the Jews and the people of Israel.
  4. The neo-cons word's can hurt sentiments of Hindus - when they say, they want to harvest the souls of heathens in India.
  5. The words of Pope has angered Muslims the world over
  6. President Bush's word has alienated us Americans from the world, when he said "you are either with us or with the evil".
  7. The words used by Hamas frightens the Jews.

Imagine the words at work, the harm they can do and the good they can do.

The power point presentation is at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com and the temporary link is:http://www.theghouseteam.com/mg/WMC_Files/Dialogue.ppt

Please think before you say words that can hurt others, the irony is, your intention is opposite of what happens when you deliver those words.

Mike Ghouse

Apology

This is the most important step in building relations between Muslims and Christians, Jews, Hindu and people of other faiths.

It is a power point presentation located at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
and here is the link for the time being :
http://www.theghouseteam.com/mg/WMC_Files/Apology.ppt

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Little Mosque on the Praire

Little Mosque on the Prairie
Reviewed by Mike Ghouse, January 13, 2007


Please watch it and leave your comments at the bottom of this log. (moderated to prevent idiots advertising their businessess) Little Mosque on the Priarie - a sitcom on CBC Canada is the best thing that has happened to the Muslims. It helps remove the sterotyping and open people's hearts and minds.

Every word is funny - pay attention to it.

EPISODE 1 - IN 4 PARTS
Part 1 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu2-lXDe2to&mode=related&search=
Part 2 :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmSAYyTKD0o&mode=related&search=
Part 3 :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4SH-vxBZEo&mode=related&search=
Part 4 :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsOH7Kmmfrs&mode=related&search=

Little Mosque on the Prairie
Review by Mike Ghouse, January 13, 2007

This is one of the funniest sitcoms made on Muslims, and it must be acknowledged as TV production at its best in building bridges between the communities. In its premier episode the Sitcom has dealt with the most crucial elements busting the myths about Islam and Muslims and created a desire, in a funny way to know more about them and laugh more about ourselves.

The average Canadian or the American would laugh boisterously, as much as a Muslim would at the ignorance of the characters of talk show hosts, Mayor, the repairman and the average Joe. The director has done a fabulous job in stereo typing people, be it Muslims or the conservative people of the Town of Mercy, as the director has tactfully shown the idiotic and intelligent versions on both sides of the divide.
The talk show host is represented by a typical neo-con talk show host on the air waves. No matter what the Imam (Muslim Clergy) says, the host is eager to interpret it wrongly even before the Imam completes his sentence. In another scene, when the police officer calls the Mosque to verify that the Imam in custody was indeed the new Imam for the Mosque and hears the answering machine responding the genuine business slogan of the roofing company “we blow the competition away” the officer gets messed up with the word Blow and understand the Imam as a guy who would blow up buildings.
The most hilarious scenes are: The imam giving the sermon and referring to smashing of the American and Canadian Idols and the response it generates is real. He meant to urge people to attend the Mosque instead of watching the show. The panic on the face of the contractor when he watches Muslims saying Allahu Akbar and kneeling down in prayer is classic. The cell phone episode is a real eye opener. The Imam was talking with his Dad, and dad was telling him that it would be suicidal to leave the law practice and go preaching, and when he responds “Dad it won’t be suicidal” the people in line at the Airport panic, and get frightened even more when the police interrogates him and identifies himself a Imam and heading to a Mosque.
There is a mighty big lesson for the Muslims to learn – learn the Western nuances and be sensitive to the language usage. A dear friend of mine went to Australia for the first time and when he entered the pub, obviously for the first time, he was greeted by an Aussie “ did you come here to die?” baffling the heck out of my friend, it was “did you come here today?”.When the Old Imam excitedly shares the idea about finding a room in the building to do the funeral chores, he speaks in his own style of English that is used in his motherland and says to the new Imam. “Oh, yes, we found a place to wash the dead bodies”. The frightened look on the face of the contractor is worth retaining in memory.
The average Muslim is frustrated living a normal daily life like every one else. Every word he or she utters becomes a secret code language to the frightened ones.When we talk about integration, we forget the education part of it. People living in the same neighborhood does not mean much if they live in their own enclaves and in their own Islands. People have to live social life together, dine together, attend funerals together and do other things bring about true integration.
Every word is funny - pay attention to it.

This is the best thing that has ever happened to Muslims and Islam. Just like all people, Muslims have been crying out loud not be mis-presented. Finally, this show has done it; it is like our prayers coming true.

At least the world can see what they hear on the talk show radios, and what they see on the television is not necessarily the truth. This is the finest Sitcom on Muslims. Please remember, it is a comedy. I request my co-religionist to relax and enjoy the sit com. Please don't find faults with it - such as Muslims looking at the intruder while praying. In reality, it does not happen - but in the sitcom they show it. Just laugh it off.
The Little Mosque on the Prairie - a sitcom on CBC Canada is the best thing that has ever happened to the Muslims as social beings. It helps remove the stereotyping and open people's hearts and minds. Muslims have been crying out loud not to be mis-presented; finally this show has done it. It is like prayers coming true.
Mike Ghouse is a Muslim thinker, speaker and a writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith issues. He has appeared on the local affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and FOX. He founded the World Muslim Congress on the belief that if we can learn to accept and respect the God-given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, conflicts will fade and solutions emerge. His articles can be found at http://mikeghousequotes.blogspot.com/ and he can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com.© Copyright 2007 by Mike Ghouse

Please go to http://www.worldmuslimcongress.com/ at this time it is sitting at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ .

Within a few weeks all of it will be on a fresh completely new website. If you are a Jew, Christian, Hindu or person of any faith, I urge you to watch the following:

An apology from Muslims
http://www.theghouseteam.com/mg/WMC_Files/Apology.ppt

A Muslim Organization committed to create a better world
http://www.theghouseteam.com/mg/WMC_Files/World%20Muslim%20Congress.ppt

Dialogue, we must do
http://www.theghouseteam.com/mg/WMC_Files/Dialogue.ppt

Download the brochure
http://www.theghouseteam.com/mg/WMC_Files/WMC_Brochure_101206.pdf

Please forward this link to your friends: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/search/label/SitComs

WORLD MUSLIM CONGRESS
GOOD FOR MUSLIMS & GOOD FOR THE WORLD

We are driven by the 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. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.OUR MISSIONOur mission is to work for a World of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed toward justice and equity to attain sustainable peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in truth. We cannot have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace.
Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator.
GOALSOur short term goal is to understand different faiths and let the values of Islam be understood as well. So we may know one another.

We will make an effort, one person at a time to reach out and be a part of interfaith groups.
We will develop an easy to comprehend ISLAM 101 power point presentation and make it available to one and all.
We will develop a list of FAQ that will address most questions.
We will activate an online presence to demystify some of the myths about Muslims and Islam.
We will conduct annual surveys to measure and improve on the RESPECT INDEX – Muslims honoring and respecting other faiths and vice versa.We have a monumental task to repair the World, and we will do our part in working towards a World of co-existence, one person at a time. We are committed, and now help us God. Amen.
GOOD DEEDS
Islam is a deed based non-judgmental religion, and consistently encourages individuals to do good.
It emphasizes about individual responsibility towards the peace and security of society at large.Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) described a good deed as an act which benefits others, such as planting a tree that serves generations of wayfarers with fruit and the shade. The world is a better place today because of a good legacy bequeathed to humanity by people of all faiths that came before us. We owe it to coming generations to leave the world a little better than we found it, to usher an era of justice and peace.
WITH PREJUDICE TOWARDS NONEAlmost all Muslims are cognizant and repeat the verse “God is the master of the Day of Judgment, and he alone we worship”. A fully observant Muslim recites this verse at least 50 times a day and refrains from judging others, as he or she believes God only can make that call.
INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITYQur'an, Al-An'am, Surah 6:163-164: I ask whether I should seek any god besides God--when he is the Lord of all things. All people will reap the harvest of their own deeds; no one will bear another’s burden. Ultimately, all of you will return to your Lord, and he will resolve your disputes.
CITIZENSHIPProphet Muhammad (pbuh) set an example of good citizenship early on in his life. The people of Makkah, non-Muslims at that time, called him Al-Amin; the truthful and the trustworthy because of his unwavering commitment to honesty in word and deed. The goal of the World Muslim Congress is to instill the humane values of Islam and to aspire to be Al-Amin to all.
A JUST SOCIETYIslam emerged to bring peace, tranquility and equilibrium to the multitudes of tribes at conflict with each other in the 6th century AD. In a period of 23 years, thru suffering, persecution and sacrifice a just society evolved. Diversity was it’s basis, respecting each tradition and bringing them together and appreciating the creator was the foundation stone of Islam.Justice, liberty and freedom are the core values enshrined in Islam.
PLURALISM
Islam is indeed a pluralistic faith and imbues a sense of humility and ideals of equality of humankind. These values are embedded in its rituals practices. All people harvest their own deeds.Qur'an, At-Taghabun, Surah 64:2-4: It was God who created you; yet some of you refuse to believe, while others have faith. He is aware of all your actions. He created the heavens and the earth to manifest the truth.He fashioned each one of you--and each one of you is beautiful. To God you will all return. He knows all that the heavens and the earth contain. He knows all that you hide and all that you reveal. He knows your deepest thoughts.
The Madinah pact, prescribes the rights of its Citizens and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the signatory to it as the head of the City State. It was an all inclusive agreement between the Jews, Christians, Sabeans, Quraish, Muslims and other tribes for a peaceful co-existence. An example was set for a pluralistic society in documenting the rights of individuals. Perhaps it was the first historical document that included diverse people. The Word Ummah was used in the document to mean all residents of the City.
FREEDOMGod could have made us all sinless angels; instead he chose to make us humans, giving guidance on one hand, temptations on the other – then giving room to make mistakes, and room for correction. Islam has not claimed monopoly to heaven; it is assured to those who do good deeds. Good deeds are defined by Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) as how your treat others. He told his daughter that it would be her deeds that would earn her a place in the Kingdom of God and not her relation with the Prophet. There is no free lunch.
Qur'an, Al-Inshiqaq, Surah 84:7-15: Each person will be given a book. Those who are given their books in their right hands (understanding the book correctly) will be judged leniently; and they will return to their people joyfully. But those who are given their books in their left hands (misunderstanding) will call their own destruction on themselves, and burn in the fire of hell.
There are the people who have never cared for their neighbors; they thought they would never return to God. Their Lord watches all that people do.For Millions of years, the physical dimension of the Universe has existed in a perfect balance as it did not have the ego to compete with each other nor had the freedom to mess with it. They do, what God intended them to do. It is the human dimension that needed religion, and every religion is meant to bring peace to individuals and balance to the world around them through free choice.God willing, the Muslim community will be drawing the blue prints and developing a 14 year plan to find their space in the world of communities, as contributors and active participants in the peaceful co-existence for the people of the World.
The Book “Muslim Vision 2020” is on the horizon.The human desire to monopolize World resources is the root cause of all evil. The pockets of anarchy and problems of the world are born out of fear and insecurities of evil men. Religion is not the source of wars or conflict. In fact, Religion is the best Gift humans have received from God, without which the World would be chaotic.
Praise the Lord.
We are pleased to announce the formation of The World Muslim Congress, A non-profit organization dedicated to promoting co-existence and contributing towards a just world. (Formed: 5/25/2006)Our silence has done more damage to us, our faith and our World. Silent no more, God willing, we will resolutely take back our faith for our good and the good of mankind.
PARADIGM SHIFT
The world has indeed become a global community. Everyone is a neighbor to everyone else; we aspire to nurture the concept of good neighborliness in the world. Our advisory board will be represented by individuals from every faith. It is time for us to be equal citizens of one world, our home. This is a major paradigm shift in how the religious organizations would be conducting their business in the coming years.
Our upcoming website: http://www.worldmuslimcongress.com/ will present a range of values in Islam. It is a shame that some of the translations of Qur’an contain phrases that are not in Qur’an. A dozen translations will be presented verse by verse, with the source. So you may know the truth!
Qur'an, As-Saff, Surah 61:2-3: Believers, why do you say what you do not execute? It is most offensive in the sight of Allah when you say what you do not practice!Speak up, silent no more ®Mike Ghouse, President,World Muslim Congress2665 Villa Creek Dr, Suite 206,Dallas, Texas 75234MikeGhouse@gmail.com

Pandit Nehru's birthday

PANDIT JAWAHARLAL NEHRU
Mike Ghouse November 4, 2007


Chacha tumhien mera Salaam!
May God bless your soul, may your soul rest in peace.

Pandit Nehru is one of my heroes.
The more I read about him and his vision,
his sacrifices for India, the more I admire.
I was an enthusiastic boy leading several schools in the procession on this day...
Today is his birthday Celebrations through out India and by Every Indian across the globe.

Poet Kaifi Azmi (Shabana Azmi's father) has captured his essence in this eternal song
Meri Aawaz suno, pyaar ka raaz suno in the movie Nuanihaal.

http ://www.musicindiaonline.com/p/x/W5xmSXZiyt.As1NMvHdW/

There is a misra (lyric) in it that says...
kyoon sanwari hai a chandan ki chita mere liye
my koi jism nahin hoon ke jalao mujhe...

raakh ke saath bikhar jaaonga...

Merei duniyan may purabh hai no koi pacchim koi
saari duniya simat aayi meri en bahon may...

The song is really beautiful... it touches me.

I will be happy to share the breath and depth of this song with you, if you wish to.

Jai Hind


Mike Ghouse
www.MikeGhouse.net


The significance of Children's Day
This is a day to think through Chacha Nehru's real message. That is providing our children with a safe and loving environment in which to grow as well as giving them ample and equal opportunities through which they can take great strides and contribute to the progress of the nation. This day serves as a reminder to each and every one of us, to renew our commitment to the welfare of children and teach them to live by their Chacha Nehru's standards and example.

Nehru at Harrow when he was 15.
Jawaharlal Nehru was born in the city of Allahabad, situated along the banks of the Ganga River (now in the state of Uttar Pradesh).Jawahar means a Gem in Arabic and is a name similar to Moti (pearl). He was the eldest child of Swarup Rani, the wife of wealthy barrister Motilal Nehru. The Nehru family descended from Kashmiri heritage and belonged to the Saraswat Brahmincaste of Hindus. Training as a lawyer, Motilal had moved to Allahabad and developed a successful practise and had become active in India's largest political party, the Indian National Congress. Nehru and his sisters — Vijaya Lakshmi and Krishna — lived in a large mansion called Anand Bhavan and raised with English customs, mannerisms and dress. While learning Hindi and Sanskrit, the Nehru children would be trained to converse fluently and regularly in English.

Jawaharlal and Kamala at their wedding.
After being tutored at home and attending some of the most modern schools in India, Nehru would travel to England at the age of 15 to attend the Harrow School. He would proceed to study natural sciences at the Trinity College before choosing to train as a barrister at the Middle Temple in London. An average student, Nehru was attracted to the arts, culture and society of Western Europe and would pursue an active social life. Frequenting the theatres, museums and opera houses of London, he would spend his vacations travelling across Europe. Observers would later describe him as an elegant, charming young intellectual and socialite. Nehru would also participate actively in the political activities of the Indian student community, growing increasingly attracted to socialism and liberalism, which were beginning to influence the politics and economies of Europe.

Upon his return to India, Nehru's marriage was arranged with Kamala Kaul. Married on February 8, 1916 Nehru age was 27 and his bride was 16 years old. The first few years of their marriage were hampered by the cultural gulf between the anglicized Nehru and Kamala, who observed Hindu traditions and focused on family affairs. The following year Kamala would give birth to their only child, their daughter Indira Priyadarshini. Having made few attempts to establish himself in a legal practise, Nehru was immediately attracted to Indian political life, which at the time was emerging from divisions over World War I. The moderate and extremist factions of the Congress had reunited in its 1916 session in Lucknow, and Indian politicians had demanded Home Rule and dominion status for India. Joining the Congress under the patronage of his father, Nehru grew increasingly disillusioned with the liberal and anglicized nature of Congress politicians, which included his father. Although frequently hailed as a future leader of the Congress and India, Nehru's political rise did not begin until the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi on India's political scene.

Young leader



Nehru was very strongly attracted to Gandhi's philosophy and leadership. Gandhi had led a successful rebellion on behalf of indentured Indian workers while a lawyer in South Africa. Upon his return to India, Gandhi organised the peasants and farmers of Champaran and Kheda in successful rebellions against oppressive tax policies levied by the British. Gandhi espoused what he termed as satyagraha — mass civil disobedience governed by ahimsa, or complete non-violence. A forceful exponent of Indian self-reliance, Gandhi's success electrified Indians, who had been divided in their approach to contesting British rule. Having met Gandhi and learning of his ideas, Nehru would assist him during the Champaran agitation.

The family of Motilal Nehru, with Jawaharlal, his wife Kamala and daughter Indira.
Following Gandhi's example, Nehru and his family abandoned their Western-style clothes, possessions and wealthy lifestyle. Wearing clothes spun out of khadi, Nehru would emerge as one of the most energetic supporters of Gandhi. Under Gandhi's influence, Nehru began studying the Bhagavad Gita and would practice yoga throughout his life. He would increasingly look to Gandhi for advice and guidance in his personal life, and would spend a lot of time travelling and living with Gandhi. Nehru travelled across India delivering political speeches aimed at recruiting India's masses, especially its youth into the agitation launched in 1919 against the Rowlatt Acts and the Khilafat struggle. He spoke passionately and forcefully to encourage Hindu-Muslim unity, spread education and self-reliance and the need to eradicate social evils such as untouchability, poverty, ignorance and unemployment.

Young Nehru.
Emerging as a key orator and prominent organiser, Nehru became one of the most popular political leaders in northern India, especially with the people of the United Provinces, Bihar and the Central Provinces. His youth and passion for social justice and equality attracted India's Muslims, women and other minorities. Nehru's role grew especially important following the arrest of senior leaders such as Gandhi and his father, and he would also be imprisoned along with his mother and sisters for many months. Alarmed by growing violence in the conduct of mass agitations, Gandhi suspended the struggle after the killling of 22 policemen by a nationalist mob at Chauri Chaura on February 4, 1922. This sudden move disillusioned many nationalists, including Nehru's father Motilal, who would join the newly formed Swaraj Party in 1923. However, Nehru remained loyal to Gandhi and publicly supported him.

A lull in nationalist activities enabled Nehru to turn his attention to social causes and local government. In 1924, he was elected president of the municipal corporation of Allahabad, serving as the city's chief executive for two years. Nehru would launch ambitious schemes to promote education, sanitation, expand water and electricity supply and reduce unemployment — his ideas and experience would prove valuable to him when he assumed charge of India's government in 1947. Achieving some success, Nehru was dissatisfied and angered by the perceived obstruction of British officials and corruption amongst civil servants. He would resign from his position within two years.

In the early part of the decade, his marriage and family life had suffered owing to the constant activity on his part and that of his father. Although facing domestic pressures and tensions in the absence of her husband, Kamala would increasingly travel with Nehru, address public meetings and seek to sponsor and encourage nationalist activities in her hometown. In the late 1920s, the initial marital gulf between the two disappeared and the couple would grow closer to each other and their daughter. In 1926 Nehru took his wife and daughter to Europe so that Kamala could receive specialist medical care. The family travelled and lived in England, Switzerland, France and Germany. Continuing his political work, Nehru would be deeply impressed by the rising currents of radical socialism in Europe, and would deliver fervent speeches in condemnation of imperialism. On a visit to the Soviet Union, Nehru was favourably impressed by the command economy, but grew critical of Stalin's totalitarianism.

Rise to national leadership

Jawaharlal Nehru in the 1920s.
In the 1920s, Nehru was elected president of the All India Trade Unions Congress. He and Subhash Chandra Bose had become the most prominent youth leaders, and both demanded outright political independence of India. Nehru criticised the Nehru Report prepared by his father in 1928, which called for dominion status for India within the British Empire. The radicalism of Nehru and Bose would provoke intense debates during the 1928 Congress session in Guwahati. Arguing that India would deliver an ultimatum to the British and prepare for mass struggle, Nehru and Bose won the hearts of many young Indians. To resolve the issue, Gandhi said that the British would be given two years to grant India dominion status. If they did not, the Congress would launch a national struggle for full, political independence. Nehru and Bose succeeded in reducing the statutory deadline to one year.

The failure of talks with the British caused the December 1929 session in Lahore to be held in an atmosphere charged with nationalist, anti-British passions. Preparing for the declaration of independence, the AICC elected Jawaharlal Nehru as Congress President at the encouragement of Gandhi. Favoured by Gandhi for his charismatic appeal to India's masses, minorities, women and youth, the move nevertheless surprised many Congressmen and political observers. Many had demanded that Gandhi or the leader of the Bardoli Satyagraha, Vallabhbhai Patel assume the presidency, especially as the leader of the Congress would the inaugurater of India's struggle for complete freedom. Nehru was seen by many as too inexperienced for the job of leading India's largest political organisation, including himself:

"I have seldom felt quite so annoyed and humiliated... It was not that I was not sensible of the honour... But I did not come to it by the main entrance or even the side entrance: I appeared suddenly from a trap door and bewildered the audience into acceptance."

On December 31, 1929 President Nehru hoisted the flag of independence before a massive public gathering along the banks of the Ravi River. The Congress would promulgate the Purna Swaraj (Complete Independence) declaration on January 26, 1930. With the launching of the Salt Satyagraha in 1930, Nehru travelled across Gujarat and other parts of the country participating and encouraging in the mass rebellion against the salt tax. Despite his father's death in 1931, Nehru and his family remained at the forefront of the struggle. Arrested with his wife and sisters, Nehru would be incarcerated for all but four months between 1931 and 1935.

Avadi and Quit India

Nehru and Gandhi at the 1942 Congress in Mumbai.
With Kamala Nehru's health increasingly fragile, Nehru was released by the British and he travelled with his family once again to Europe in 1935, where Kamala would remain bed-ridden. Torn between the freedom struggle and tending to his wife, Nehru would travel back and forth between India and Europe, and despite the care given by him, his daughter Indira and specialist doctors, Kamala Nehru died in 1938. Deeply saddened, Nehru nevertheless continued to maintain a hectic schedule. He would always wear a fresh rose in his coat for the remainder of his life to remember Kamala, who had also become a national heroine.

Nehru had been re-elected Congress President in 1936, and had presided over its session in Lucknow. Here he participated in a fierce debate with Gandhi, Patel and other Congress leaders over the adoption of socialism as the official goal of the party. Younger socialists such as Jaya Prakash Narayan, Mridula Sarabhai, Narendra Dev and Asoka Mehta began to see Nehru as leader of Congress socialists. Under their pressure, the Congress passed the Avadi Resolution proclaiming socialism as the model for India's future government. Nehru was re-elected the following year, and oversaw the Congress national campaign for the 1937 elections. Largely leaving political organisation work to others, Nehru travelled the length and breadth of the country, exhorting the masses on behalf of the Congress, which would win an outright majority in the central and most of the provincial legislatures. Although he did not contest elections himself, Nehru was seen by the national media as the leader of the Congress.

Jawaharlal Nehru sitting next to Mahatma Gandhi at the AICC General Session, 1942
At the outbreak of World War II, India was entered on the side of the British by the viceroy. Outraged at the viceroy's arbitrary decision, all elected Congressmen resigned from their offices at the instigation of Subhash Bose and Nehru. But even as Bose would call for an outright revolt and would procede to seek the aid of Nazi Germany and Japan, Nehru remained sympathetic to the British cause. He joined Maulana Azad, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari and Patel in offering Congress support for the war effort in turn for a commitment from the British to grant independence after the war. In doing so, Nehru broke ranks with Gandhi, who had resisted in supporting war and remained suspicious of the British. The failure of negotiations and Britain's refusal to concede independence outraged Indian nationalists. Gandhi and Patel called for an all-out rebellion, a demand that was opposed by Rajagopalachari and resisted by Nehru and Azad. After intensive debates and heated discussions, the Congress leaders called for the British to Quit India — to transfer power to Indian hands immediately or face a mass rebellion. Despite his skepticism, Nehru travelled the country to exhort India's masses into rebellion. He was arrested with the entire Congress Working Committee on August 9, 1942 and transported to a maximum security prison at a fort in Ahmednagar. Here he would remain incarcerated with his colleagues till June 1945. His daughter Indira and her husband Feroze Gandhi would also be imprisoned for a few months. Nehru's first grandchild, Rajiv was born in 1944.

India's first prime minister

Maulana Azad and Nehru.
Nehru and his colleagues had been released as the British Cabinet Mission arrived to propose plans for transfer of power. The Congress held a presidential election in the knowledge that its chosen leader would become India's head of government. 11 Congress state units nominated Vallabhbhai Patel, while only the Working Committee suggested Nehru. Sensing that Nehru would not accept second place to Patel, Gandhi supported Nehru and asked Patel to withdraw, which he immediately did. Nehru's election surprised many Congressmen and continues to be a source of controversy in modern times. Nehru headed an interim government, which was impaired by outbreaks of communal violence and political disorder, and the opposition of the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who were demanding a separate Muslim state of Pakistan. After failed bids to form coalitions, Nehru reluctantly supported the partition of India as per a plan released by the British on June 3, 1947. He would take office as the Prime Minister of India on August 15, and delivered his inaugural address titled "A Tryst With Destiny:"
"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity."
[1]
However, this period was marked with intense communal violence that swept across the Punjab region, Delhi, Bengal and other parts of India. Nehru conducted joint tours [citation needed] with Pakistani leaders to encourage peace and calm angry and disillusioned refugees. Nehru would work with Maulana Azad and other Muslim leaders to safeguard and encourage Muslims to remain in India. The violence of the time deeply affected Nehru, who called for a ceasefire [citation needed] and UN intervention to stop the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Fearing communal reprisals, Nehru also hesitated in supporting the annexation of Hyderabad State, and clashed with Patel on the Kashmir dispute and relations with Pakistan. Nehru asserted his own control over Kashmir policy while Patel objected to Nehru sidelining his Home Ministry's officials.[2] Nehru felt offended by Patel's decision-making regarding the states' integration without consulting either him or the Cabinet. Patel asked Gandhi to relieve him of his obligation to serve. He knew that he lacked Nehru's youth and popularity, and believed that an open political battle would hurt India. After much personal deliberation and contrary to Patel's prediction, Gandhi on January 30, 1948 told Patel not to leave the Government, and to stay by Nehru's side in joint leadership. A free India, according to Gandhi, desperately needed both Patel and Nehru's joint leadership.[3]

Nehru and Gandhi.
Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948. At Gandhi's wake, Nehru and Patel embraced each other and addressed the nation together. Criticism soon arose from the media and other politicians that Patel's home ministry had failed to protect Gandhi. Emotionally exhausted, Patel tendered a letter of resignation, offering to leave the Government — despite his word to Gandhi — desiring not to embarrass Nehru's administration. Nehru sent Patel a letter dismissing any question of personal differences and his desire for Patel's ouster. He reminded Patel of their thirty-year partnership in the freedom struggle, and that after Gandhi's death, it was especially wrong for them to quarrel. Moved, Patel personally and publicly endorsed Nehru's leadership and refuted any suggestion of discord. Despite working together, the two leaders would clash on various issues. Nehru declined Patel's counsel on sending assistance to Tibet after its 1950 invasion by the People's Republic of China and ejecting the Portuguese from Goa by military force.[4]
When Nehru pressured Dr. Rajendra Prasad to decline a nomination to become the first President of India in 1950 in favour of Rajagopalachari, he thus angered the party, which felt Nehru was attempting to impose his will. Nehru sought Patel's help in winning the party over, but Patel declined, and Prasad was duly elected. When Nehru opposed the 1950 Congress presidential candidacy of Purushottam Das Tandon, a conservative Hindu leader, he endorsed Jivatram Kripalani and threatened to resign if Tandon was elected. Patel rejected Nehru's views and endorsed Tandon in Gujarat, where Kripalani received not one vote despite hailing from that state himself.[5] Patel believed Nehru had to understand that his will was not law with the Congress, but he personally discouraged Nehru from resigning after the latter felt that the party had no confidence in him.[6]

Leading India
In the years following independence, Nehru frequently turned to his daughter Indira to look after him and manage his personal affairs. Following Patel's death in 1950, Nehru became the most popular and powerful Indian politician. Under his leadership, the Congress won an overwhelming majority in the elections of 1952, in which his son-in-law Feroze Gandhi was also elected. Indira moved into Nehru's official residence to attend to him, inadvertantly estranging her husband, who would become a critic of Nehru's government. Nevertheless, Indira would virtually become Nehru's chief of staff and constant companion in his travels across India and the world.

Economic policies
Nehru implemented his socialist vision by introducing a diluted version of state planning and control over the economy. Creating the Planning commission of India, Nehru drew up the first Five-Year Plan in 1951, which charted the government's investments in industries and agriculture. Increasing business and income taxes, Nehru envisaged a mixed economy in which the government would manage strategic industries such as mining, electricity and heavy industries, serving public interest and a check to private enterprise. Nehru pursued land redistribution and launched programmes to build irrigation canals, dams and spread the use of fertilizers to increase agricultural production. He also pioneered a series of community development programs aimed at spreading diverse cottage industries and increasing efficiency into rural India. While encouraging the construction of large dams, irrigation works and the generation of hydroelectricity, Nehru also launched India's programme to harness nuclear energy.
For most of Nehru's term as prime minister, India could continue to face serious food shortages despite progress and increases in agricultural production. The nation would rely on food imports and economic development aid from the World Bank, IMF, the United States and European nations. Nehru's industrial policies encouraged the growth of diverse manufacturing and heavy industries, yet state planning, controls and regulations impaired productivity, quality and profitability. Although the Indian economy enjoyed a steady rate of growth, chronic unemployment amidst entrenched poverty continued to plague the population. Nehru's popularity remained unaffected, and his government succeeded in extending water and electricity supply, health care, roads and infrastructure to a large degree for India's vast rural population.
A few of Nehru's ministers had to resign on allegation of corruption .His minister of Mines and Oil K D Malviya had to resign for accepting money from a private party in return for certain concessions.The sitting judge of the Supreme Court, S.K. Das reviewed all the evidence, including the account books of the businessman in which mention had been made of a payment to Malviya, and found two of the six charges against the Minister to be valid. Malviya resigned as a result. [2]
Another minister T. T. Krishnamachari had to resign when one man Justice Chagla Commission found him guilty of corruption .[3]

Education and social reform

Nehru distributing sweets to children in Guwahati.
Jawaharlal Nehru was a passionate advocate of education for India's children and youth, believing it essential for India's future progress. His government oversaw the establishment of many institutions of higher learning, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management. Nehru also outlined a commitment in his five-year plans to guarantee free and compulsory primary education to all of India's children. For this purpose, Nehru oversaw the creation of mass village enrollment programmes and the construction of thousands of schools. Nehru also launched initiatives such as the provision of free milk and meals to children in order to fight malnutrition. Adult education centres, vocational and technical schools were also organised for adults, especially in the rural areas.
Under Nehru, the Indian Parliament enacted many changes to Hindu law to criminalize caste discrimination and increase the legal rights and social freedoms of women. A system of reservations in government services and educational institutions was created to eradicate the social inequalities and disadvantages faced by peoples of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Nehru also championed secularism and religious harmony, increasing the representation of minorities in government.

National security and foreign policy

Jawaharlal Nehru talks to Pakistan prime minister Muhammad Ali Bogra during his 1953 visit to Karachi.
Although having promised in 1948 to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir under the auspices of the U.N., Nehru grew increasingly wary of the U.N. and declined to hold a plebiscite in 1953. He ordered the arrest of the Kashmiri politician Sheikh Abdullah, whom he had previously supported but now suspected of harbouring separatist ambitions. On the international scene, Nehru was a champion of pacifism and a strong supporter of the United Nations. He pioneered the policy of non-alignment and co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement of nations professing neutrality between the rival blocs of nations led by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Recognising the People's Republic of China, Nehru sought to establish warm and friendly relations with it despite the annexation of Tibet in 1950, and hoped to act as an intermediary to bridge the gulf and tensions between the communist states and the Western bloc.
While hailed by many for working to defuse global tensions and the threat of nuclear weapons, Nehru's neutrality was assailed by many politicians and governments when he refused to condemn the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 in the same vein he had criticised the joint invasion of the Suez Canal by the British, French and Israelis. Suspicion and distrust cooled relations between India and the U.S., which suspected Nehru of tactily supporting the Soviet Union. Nehru was also criticised for underallocation of funds and resources for India's military services, even as the U.S. provided extensive military aid to Pakistan. Accepting the arbitration of the U.K. and World Bank, Nehru signed the Indus Water Treaty in 1960 with Pakistani ruler Ayub Khan to resolve long-standing disputes about sharing the resources of the major rivers of the Punjab region.

Final years

Public viewing of Nehru's body, which lies in state.
Nehru had led the Congress to a major victory in the 1957 elections, but his government was facing rising problems and criticism. Disillusioned by intra-party corruption and bickering, Nehru contemplated resigning but continued to serve. However, Nehru's reputation suffered owing to corruption scandals of party MPs and ministers, as well as by public dissatisfaction with a stagnating economy and government inefficiency. The election of his daughter Indira as Congress President in 1959 aroused criticism for alleged nepotism. Although the Pancha Sila (Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence) was the basis of the 1954 Sino-Indian treaty over Tibet, in later years, Nehru's foreign policy suffered through increasing Chinese antagonism over border disputes and Nehru's decision to grant assylum to the Dalai Lama. After years of failed negotiations, Nehru authorized the Indian Army to annex Goa from Portugal in 1961. While increasing his popularity, Nehru received criticism for opting for military action.
In the 1962 elections, Nehru led the Congress to victory yet with a diminished majority. Opposition parties ranging from the right-wing Bharatiya Jana Sangh and Swatantra Party, socialists and the Communist Party of India performed well. In a matter of months, a Chinese invasion of northeastern India exposed the weaknesses of India's military as Chinese forces came as far as Assam. Widely criticised for neglecting India's defence needs, Nehru was forced to sack the defence minister Krishna Menon and accept U.S. military aid. Nehru's health began declining steadily, and he was forced to spend months recuperating in Kashmir through 1963. Upon his return from Kashmir in May 1964, Nehru suffered a stroke and later a heart attack. He died in the early hours of May 27, 1964. Nehru was cremated as per Hindu rites at the Shantivana on the banks of the Yamuna River, witnessed by hundreds of thousands of mourners who had flocked into the streets of Delhi and the cremation grounds.

Chacha Nehru's Gift To The Children Of India
A hundred and seventeen years ago in Allahabad, on 14th November, 1889, a son was born to an eminent lawyer, Motilal Nehru and his wife Swaroop Rani. They named him Jawaharlal. He was an exceptional child, brilliant and compassionate and was greatly loved by all.
His father wanted to give him the best education and so sent him to England to do his M.A. from Cambridge. On his return to India, young Jawaharlal realised that he was not interested in making money through the legal profession. Instead, he was filled with patriotic fervour and wanted to help the poor and the downtrodden. He joined the Congress and Gandhiji in the Freedom Struggle of India and turned out to be an extremely outspoken, honest, practical and illustrious politician. And when India gained its independence, this outstanding statesman was named the first Prime Minister of the country.
Nehru's contribution to Society
It can be said that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is the maker of Modern India as his life and works have influenced our way of thinking, social structures and all round development. He was a perfect blend of eastern values and western thinking and encouraged technological progress. But he was also a man of letters and a great poet and wrote some famous works like, 'Glimpses of World History' and 'Discovery of India'. His letters to his daughter, Indira, was also compiled into a book and reflects his philosophical outlook, his compassion and above all, his tender heart.

The birth of Chacha Nehru
His great love for roses as well as children is a well-known fact. In fact he often compared the two, saying that children were like the buds in a garden. They should be carefully and lovingly nurtured, as they were the future of the nation and the citizens of tomorrow. He felt that children are the real strength of a country and the very foundation of society. Most importantly he did not discriminate between the sexes and believed in giving equal opportunities to girls and boys. In fact his own little girl grew up to be the third Prime Minister of India.
Quite naturally, he was the 'beloved' of all the children who gave him the endearing name of 'Chacha Nehru'. As a tribute to this great man and his genuine love for children, his birthday is celebrated all over India as 'UNIVERSAL CHILDREN'S DAY'. A day of fun and fanfare. It is not only a national holiday, but is celebrated with singing, dancing and storytelling in schools and colleges as well as on radio and television. Special functions are held to honour children all over the country.
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Children's Day is to celebrate "childhood". On Children’s Day tribute is payed to all children in the world. Children are loved by one and all. They win over our hearts with their angelic eyes and innocent smiles. It makes one realise that maybe that’s the way God wanted us to be.India's first prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, was born on November 14. After his death in 1963, his birthday has been celebrated as children's Day in India.Children's Day is not just a day to let the future generation have its say. It is a day to remember a leader who, in his quiet but determined way, laid the foundation to convert a nascent nation into a world power. But why Children's Day? Apart from being known for his skills as a statesman, Nehru was also immensely fond of children. The more popular and famous of Nehru's pictures show him with children. In all the photographs Nehru's joy at being with children is apparent. When he is not sharing pleasantries
with them, the expression of intense concentration as he listens to them reveals his commitment and attitude to children. Children to Nehru were little adults in the making.Nehru, to children, is never the Indian political leader and prime minister. He is always Chacha Nehru - Nehru Uncle.Children's Day is celebrated all over India, especially at the school level. There are also community activities with stress on children's involvement. The story also goes that he started to wear a rose on his jacket after a child pinned one on it.The national children's centre, Jawahar Bal Bhavan, is also named after Jawaharlal Nehru. Children's Day is literally that. It is the day when children all over the country are pampered with goodies. From the schoolchild's point of view, the best thing perhaps is that it is a special day at school - they need not wear uniforms and are given sweets.Celebrations:Most schools have cultural programmes for the day, with the students managing it all. All over the country, various cultural, social, and even corporate, institutions conduct competitions for children. Children's Day is a day for children to engage in fun and frolic. Schools celebrate this day by organising cultural programmes.Teachers of the school perform songs and dances for their students. Various competitions like quizzes, fancy dress competitions, elocutions are organised on this day. Children are also treated to a movie and lunch.Television networks have in the recent years started to air special programmes all day long for kids on November 14, making this day a special treat.