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Monday, February 26, 2007

Understanding Jainism

Understanding Jainism

Thanks to all of you who attended the program on Understanding Hinduism on Sunday, February 25th at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison. By the end of this week, we will publish the summary of the report, and 3 columns on Hinduism written in 600 words each. The pictures will be uploaded and we will try to upload the meeting on you tube. In addition, I found a good video presentation of, What is common Islam and Hinduism by a Muslim Scholar. You'll learn a little bit more about Hinduism in it.


Sunday, March 25, 2007 at 6 PM
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road, Addison, TX 75001
(On Midway, between Spring Valley & Belt Line).

J ainism may not be familiar to many, but it is nearly a 8,500** (Dr. Parikh's speech below) years old Philosophy. Dallas has a Jain temple and a new temple is being planned as well. Jainism has a very unique perspective about God and creation. Those who attend the event will gain an insight into Jainism. Part of the Mission statement of the Foundation for Pluralism was influenced by Jain philosophy of Anekant.a.vad, and Mahatma Gandhi's principles of non-violence flew from Jainism.

The Foundation for Pluralism is pleased to present an educational series on understanding the wisdom and beauty of each religion. 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.

We invite Jains around the world to write a column on Jainism, with a limit of 600 words . It is difficult, but can be done. There is a magic in that number in terms of comprehension and attention. Please send the email to:: FoundationforPluralism@gmail.com

Speakers:
Dr. Vastupal Parikh and an author of books on Jainism
Dr. Pradeep Shah, teacher of Jainism in Dallas, Mike Ghouse, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas.

Q & A
Session is followed by the presentation by the speakers.
Come prepared with all the questions you may have.

The very purpose of religion is to give a sense of balance to an individual and then create that symbiotic balance between the individual and what is around him or her. Spirituality and Arrogance are inversely proportional to each other. Greater the arrogance, lower the spirituality and vice versa. Greater humility amounts to greater spirituality.

The event is a tribute to those who are willing to think beyond the box. We have planned the educational series for all the scripted established religions this year and eventually, hope to include all faiths. Just so we know the unique ways the lord is worshipped.

We hope at a few 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. We are committed to presenting the beauty and wisdom of each religion.

PLEASE RSVP to:ConfirmAttendance@gmail.com (it helps us plan the refreshments and seating)

We invite sponsorship for each event or any given event; your responsibility would include sharing part or full expenses for the facility, refreshments and soft drinks for attendees.

FOUNDATION FOR PLURALISM : EVENTS http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/

Abstract of the Speech by Dr. Vastupal Parikh
(March 25, 2007 at Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas, Texas)

Jainism is one of the oldest living spiritual philosophies. However, it is little known, probably because Jainism is really neither a faith nor a religion in the sense in which most of us now understand these terms.

Jains do indeed follow the teachings of the Jinas – a series of twenty four Tirthankaras, or teachers, spanning the period 8,500 BCE to 600 BCE. These Tirthankars preached that the universe governs itself by a set of natural laws, and that - everyone can shape his/her destiny. They developed a spiritual path for mastering one’s own destiny, but did not claim that they preached an unalterable truth, nor did they demand that their concept of natural theology be accepted through the mere act of faith. On the contrary, they insisted that anyone who wished to attain the enlightenment and bliss they had attained should experiment for themselves, by embarking on the suggested spiritual path and retaining what was useful and abandoning what was not. The ultimate reward is complete understanding of “Absolute Reality” and Moksha, (total liberation). Moksha empowers one’s soul with unlimited perception, knowledge, happiness, and unlimited energy. However, those who could not complete the journey would still reap the rewards of unprecedented happiness, peace, and tranquility.

Thus, Jainism is an experiment-based logical system. It shows a proven path to liberation, but advises us to develop our faith in it on the basis of personal intuition (rational vision), critical or rational study of the vision (rational knowledge), and personal experimentation and experience of the journey (rational lifestyle). These three – Rational Vision, Rational Knowledge, and Rational Lifestyle – form the core of Jainism and are called ‘the Three Jewels.”

Jain philosophy is classified as ‘natural theology’ because its world vision is based on a self-governing Nature (or Universe) as a superpower. Its laws and natural principles apply not just for humans and not just locally, but far beyond throughout the entire universe. The universe in this vision consists of six eternal entities - Soul, Matter, Space, Time, the Principle of Change and the Principle of Resistance to change (stability). Every thing in the universe results from the natural interaction of these six entities. Every living being (regardless of its form) is a soul entangled with matter, and ‘moksha’ (liberation) is simply a freeing of the soul from its entanglement. This world vision has the soul as the most important entity and has given rise to the three principal doctrines, known as the ‘Triple ‘A’s of Jainism. These are:
Ahimsa (non-violence) - respect and reverence for every living being
Anekantwada (multi-faceted reality) - consideration of different opinions and viewpoints to gain a better understanding of the truth (reality), which has many facets, and
Aprigraha - limiting personal needs and possessions, because these not only harm the environment but also generate unreasonable attachment to objects that impede spiritual progress.

Thus Jainism is neither a ‘faith’ nor a ‘religion’, but a rational philosophy for spiritual progress, well being of all living beings, personal and global peace, and environmental protection. Jains have followed this system for centuries as a non-violent, peaceful community. Its three ‘A’s provide much needed wisdom and direction for alleviating, if not resolving, many of the problems threatening our planet in the 21st century. Current world challenges include fundamentalism, terrorism, war, global poverty, and human and environmental degradation. Jainism offers advice in addressing these issues, and the time has come to examine this philosophy carefully and perhaps take its world vision seriously.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Female Muslim Scholars

Research: 8000 Female Hadith Scholars

This is an interesting development. Most of the opposition to this will come from a small, very small, tiny, weeny group of insecure Muslim men (make no mistake about it, it is not just Muslim men, all little men act like that ). Men who need to grow up and accept that whether male or female, child or senior, all are fully capable of dealing everything about Deen and Duniya.

The only superiority one can achieve is, how humble one is and how much good one does to Allah's whole creation. It is the Taqwa. It is ironic and paradoxical, that the exalted one is the most humble one.

Is there a need to feel superior? Absolutely not. Every ritual in Islam is geared to make us think and feel equal and most importantly humble. Arrogance and spirituality are inversely proportional to each other. Meaning - higher the arrogance, lower the Taqwa, lower the arrogance, higher degree of Taqwa.

Indeed, God is an equal opportunity creator, he has created a binary world, world of action and reaction. There are hundreds of verses where the opposites are mentioned equal number of times. Balance is the ultimate goal, for us Muslims through the concepts of Justice, Fasting, Salat and Zakat we can strive for that elusive balance. When there is justice, just nations, just businesses, just relationships, just economies and just laws, every one in the society will progress. This is not communism, where equality is forced, it is accomplished through choice and free will. One may want to be a millionaire and others may just want to earn a little and live a life, that is their choice, nothing superior or inferior about it, as long as Just means are employed to get there.

Our community, whether Muslim or not, can uplift itself by absorbing the essence of Islam - that of Justness. We should take away all the un-wanted barriers for every individual from desiring to contribute towards the overall development of the community. If we cannot encourage the strivers, we should learn to shut up.

Speak up! silent no more.

Mike Ghouse
www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
www.FoundationforPluralism.com



February 25, 2007
Reconsideration
A Secret History
By CARLA POWER

For Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the stock image of an Islamic scholar is a gray-bearded man. Women tend to be seen as the subjects of Islamic law rather than its shapers. And while some opportunities for religious education do exist for women — the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo has a women’s college, for example, and there are girls’ madrasas and female study groups in mosques and private homes — cultural barriers prevent most women in the Islamic world from pursuing such studies. Recent findings by a scholar at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies in Britain, however, may help lower those barriers and challenge prevalent notions of women’s roles within Islamic society. Mohammad Akram Nadwi, a 43-year-old Sunni alim, or religious scholar, has rediscovered a long-lost tradition of Muslim women teaching the Koran, transmitting hadith (deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and even making Islamic law as jurists.

Akram embarked eight years ago on a single-volume biographical dictionary of female hadith scholars, a project that took him trawling through biographical dictionaries, classical texts, madrasa chronicles and letters for relevant citations. “I thought I’d find maybe 20 or 30 women,” he says. To date, he has found 8,000 of them, dating back 1,400 years, and his dictionary now fills 40 volumes. It’s so long that his usual publishers, in Damascus and Beirut, have balked at the project, though an English translation of his preface — itself almost 400 pages long — will come out in England this summer. (Akram has talked with Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the United States, about the possibility of publishing the entire work through his Riyadh-based foundation.)

The dictionary’s diverse entries include a 10th-century Baghdad-born jurist who traveled through Syria and Egypt, teaching other women; a female scholar — or muhaddithat — in 12th-century Egypt whose male students marveled at her mastery of a “camel load” of texts; and a 15th-century woman who taught hadith at the Prophet’s grave in Medina, one of the most important spots in Islam. One seventh-century Medina woman who reached the academic rank of jurist issued key fatwas on hajj rituals and commerce; another female jurist living in medieval Aleppo not only issued fatwas but also advised her far more famous husband on how to issue his.
Not all of these women scholars were previously unknown. Many Muslims acknowledge that Islam has its learned women, particularly in the field of hadith, starting with the Prophet’s wife Aisha. And several Western academics have written on women’s religious education. About a century ago, the Hungarian Orientalist Ignaz Goldziher estimated that about 15 percent of medieval hadith scholars were women. But Akram’s dictionary is groundbreaking in its scope.

Indeed, read today, when many Muslim women still don’t dare pray in mosques, let alone lecture leaders in them, Akram’s entry for someone like Umm al-Darda, a prominent jurist in seventh-century Damascus, is startling. As a young woman, al-Darda used to sit with male scholars in the mosque, talking shop. “I’ve tried to worship Allah in every way,” she wrote, “but I’ve never found a better one than sitting around, debating other scholars.” She went on to teach hadith and fiqh, or law, at the mosque, and even lectured in the men’s section; her students included the caliph of Damascus. She shocked her contemporaries by praying shoulder to shoulder with men — a nearly unknown practice, even now — and issuing a fatwa, still cited by modern scholars, that allowed women to pray in the same position as men.

It’s after the 16th century that citations of women scholars dwindle. Some historians venture that this is because Islamic education grew more formal, excluding women as it became increasingly oriented toward establishing careers in the courts and mosques. (Strangely enough, Akram found that this kind of exclusion also helped women become better scholars. Because they didn’t hold official posts, they had little reason to invent or embellish prophetic traditions.)
Akram’s work has led to accusations that he is championing free mixing between men and women, but he says that is not so. He maintains that women students should sit at a discreet distance from their male classmates or co-worshipers, or be separated by a curtain. (The practice has parallels in Orthodox Judaism.) The Muslim women who taught men “are part of our history,” he says. “It doesn’t mean you have to follow them. It’s up to people to decide.”
Neverthless, Akram says he hopes that uncovering past hadith scholars could help reform present-day Islamic culture.

Many Muslims see historical precedents — particularly when they date back to the golden age of Muhammad — as blueprints for sound modern societies and look to scholars to evaluate and interpret those precedents. Muslim feminists like the Moroccan writer Fatima Mernissi and Kecia Ali, a professor at Boston University, have cast fresh light on women’s roles in Islamic law and history, but their worldview — and their audiences — are largely Western or Westernized. Akram is a working alim, lecturing in mosques and universities and dispensing fatwas on issues like inheritance and divorce. “Here you’ve got a guy who’s coming from the tradition, who knows the stuff and who’s able to give us that level of detail which is missing in the self-proclaimed progressive Muslim writers,” says James Piscatori, a professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University.

The erosion of women’s religious education in recent times, Akram says, reflects “decline in every aspect of Islam.” Flabby leadership and a focus on politics rather than scholarship has left Muslims ignorant of their own history. Islam’s current cultural insecurity has been bad for both its scholarship and its women, Akram says. “Our traditions have grown weak, and when people are weak, they grow cautious. When they’re cautious, they don’t give their women freedoms.”
When Akram lectures, he dryly notes, women are more excited by this history than men.

To persuade reluctant Muslims to educate their girls, Akram employs a potent debating strategy: he compares the status quo to the age of al jahiliya, the Arabic term for the barbaric state of pre-Islamic Arabia. (Osama Bin Laden and Sayyid Qutb, the godfather of modern Islamic extremism, have employed the comparison to very different effect.) Barring Muslim women from education and religious authority, Akram argues, is akin to the pre-Islamic custom of burying girls alive. “I tell people, ‘God has given girls qualities and potential,’ ” he says. “If they aren’t allowed to develop them, if they aren’t provided with opportunities to study and learn, it’s basically a live burial.”

When I spoke with him, Akram invoked a favorite poem, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” Thomas Gray’s 18th-century lament for dead English farmers. “Gray said that villagers could have been like Milton,” if only they’d had the chance, Akram observes. “Muslim women are in the same situation. There could have been so many Miltons.”
Carla Power is a London-based journalist who writes about Islamic issues.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hinduism 101


Hinduism 101: Many faces of the divine
Connections: Workshop hopes to clear up misconceptions on a religion filled with colorful imagery


http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/religion/stories/DN-relhindu_24met.ART.North.Edition1.20815bd.html

09:08 AM CST on Saturday, February 24, 2007

By LAURA SCHREIER / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Popular misconception No. 1: Hinduism is a polytheistic religion.
Not so, said Dr. Hasmukh Shah, a Plano heart surgeon who teaches young members of the DFW Hindu Temple.
Non-Hindus see the statues of elephants, monkeys and multiarmed men and assume that Hinduism has a pantheon like that of ancient Greece, Dr. Shah said, but the images are in fact considered to represent incarnations of one supreme being.

Dr. Shah uses a human comparison to explain: "I'm a grandfather to my grandchildren, father to my children, husband to my wife – but I'm the same person."

It's a vastly complex religion, he said, but those who attend "Understanding Hinduism" on Sunday should get a grasp on the basics and clear up such misconceptions.

The Foundation for Pluralism, a Dallas-based interfaith organization, will host the workshop at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road in Addison. Organizer Mike Ghouse, who founded the group and is the event's moderator, said this workshop will cover the origins of Hinduism, the concept of rebirth, India's caste system and more.

He estimates that North Texas has 50,000 to 55,000 Hindus.

"Understanding Hinduism" is part of a series of workshops that resemble a World Religions 101 course. Last month was "Understanding Islam," and next month will be "Understanding Judaism."

The point is to create understanding among people of different faiths, Mr. Ghouse said – "just so we know the various unique ways the Lord is worshipped."

Mr. Ghouse grew up in India, which has long struggled with violence between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority. He said he saw some parents reinforce those ideas of hate and malice in their children; he was lucky enough to have been raised differently.

Whenever riots or attacks between the two groups broke out in his youth, he said, his parents wouldn't take one side or another. They would merely describe it as the evil activity of a few that was spreading. They taught acceptance and love, he said, and that stuck with him.

Dr. Shah and the Swami Nityananda Prabhu, president of the Hare Krishna Temple in Dallas, will present brief lectures on Hinduism, and a question-and-answer session will follow. Mr. Ghouse expects about 100 people to attend.

religion@dallasnews.com

IF YOU GO

The Foundation for Pluralism will host a free workshop "Understanding Hinduism" on Sunday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 14315 Midway Road in Addison. The event begins at 6 p.m., and those who wish to attend must R.S.V.P. to confirm attendance@gmail.com. A question-and-answer session will follow presentations.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He has appeared on the local affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS and FOX and has been written up in the news papers. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme " good for Muslims - good for the world." The organization is driven by Qur'aan, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware. Mike believes that if people can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. His articles can be found at www.FoundationforPluralism.com , and www.Mikeghouse.net , http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/ and he can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

Friday, February 23, 2007

Samjhauta Express Tragedy

Samjhauta Express Tragedy
Mike Ghouse Feb 22, 2007


If you want a better society, invoke the best in others.

I commend Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Musharaff's commitment to peace, and their statements kindling the right attitudes among the Indians and Paksitanis.

The bombing of the Samjhauta Express, the Railway Passenger train near New Delhi on the way to Lahore, Pakistan was a disgusting act carried out by extremists intent on derailing the peace process.

Someone once wrote that if you are committed to whatever you want to do in life, all sorts of things happen; providence moves in and paves the way for you. Commitment is the key for changing anything in life. Without commitment, no goal would ever be achieved.

In life, whether it is embarking on a new business, a marriage or any sort of endeavor, commitment is paramount.

If the business faces difficulties, such as losing a bid to another party, or say perhaps a loan application is denied, losing faith is the easy way out. Whatever hard times may befall us, commitment to the endeavor is the key to staying on course.

We can apply these examples in marriage, job, school or anything we do. If we are not committed, problems stop us in the face, where as when the same problems hit you when we are committed, they become part of going forward. Lets apply the same thought to the Indo-Pak peace process.

Thanks to the heads of both the nations, they did not resort to drastic measures such playing the blame game or pulling the embassy staff back. Once you take the wrong step, you go down the hill very fast, and it would take a lot of effort to restore to the place we have reached.

Their statements have generated great attitudes; both of them believe if you want a better society, you have to invoke the best. This invocation is the reason; we are not witnessing any hate today, and have not taken backward steps.

Those who carried out these attacks do not want Pakistanis and Indians to meet. They want to hurt the improving relations between Pakistan and India but they will not succeed. People on both sides of the border must continue to travel and meet and show that they are not scared to die for what is just. Solidarity is the key.

Israel can learn a lesson from us. Bombing is not the solution; it only aggravates the situation further and takes the parties far away from peace. For every action there is an equal reaction, nature is designed to find its own balance. If one has the fire power, others will have the will power. Neither side will let each other live in peace. Those is power owe the Israeli and Palestinian Children a life of hope. The leadership should be elected on the basis of peace they bring, the lives they do not squander. A new accountability system must be initiated for putting leaders on the place. I pray PM Manmohan Singh and President Musharraf will start the clock now.

I hope the Indians and Pakistanis will keep their hearts free from hate, and resist the temptations to go astray. We owe peace to every inhabitant of the land, that is when we become great nations again.

Peace should be our goal, and our attitudes ought to be geared towards that. For peace brings prosperity to the people on both sides of the equation. It is our patriotic duty to uplift every person to have at least two meals a day, decent clothing and minimum shelter.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He has appeared on the local affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS and FOX and has been written up in the news papers. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme " good for Muslims and good for the world." The organization is driven by Qur'aan, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware. Mike believes that if people can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. His articles can be found at www.FoundationforPluralism.com , www.MikeGhouse.net and http://mikeghouse.blogspot.com/ and he can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com


Pakistan forcelifts Samjhauta survivors
Pradeep Thakur, Indrani Bagchi & Megha Suri
[ 23 Feb, 2007 0030hrs IST
TIMES NEWS NETWORK

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Pakistan_forcelifts_Samjhauta_Express_survivors/articleshow/1662455.cms

TRAUMA OVERDOSE: A critically injured Qamaruddin being bundled out of SafdarjungHospital to be taken to a waiting Pakistan Air Force transport aircraft on Thursday (TOI Photo)

NEW DELHI : Seven survivors of the Samjhauta Express tragedy were forced on Thursday to leave SafdarjungHospital on short notice and taken away to a waiting Pakistan Air Force aircraft to be flown back home. All of them were badly burned and a few of them pleaded that they be allowed to stay back for a few days more for their wounds to heal. Some said they had no one at home to look after them. But the doctors said they were helpless; these were orders from above. It transpires that Pakistan was adamant to take back their citizens who had survived the blast, no matter what their medical condition. To make matters worse for them, they were rushed out of the sanitised burns unit in the afternoon, but until the time of writing their aircraft had not taken off, ostensibly due to ‘‘technical reasons’’. In other words, they are waiting in the plane without medical attention. Some of them need it badly. For instance, 9-year-old Shamim was on ventilator when he was almost dragged out of Safdarjung’s ICU along with six others and put on a PAF special aircraft to be airlifted to Lahore. Some of the blast victims cried in vain to be allowed to stay back till they recuperated. As early as Monday, Pakistan asked the Indian government for permission to bring a C-130 transport aircraft to airlift injured Pakistani citizens from Indian hospitals. Baffled, the Indian government took a little time to digest this. The Pakistani victims had been badly injured in body and in spirit and it seemed a very strange request. Finally, India said the injured could be removed only after medical clearance.


Hope floats: Samjhauta is back on tracks

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/NEWS/India/Hope_floats_Samjhauta_is_back_on_tracks/articleshow/1656110.cms


NEW DELHI: Hundreds of passengers overcame fear and strict security checks on Thursday to travel by rail from India to Pakistan, the first journey on the route since 68 people were killed when a train was bombed this week. Two bombs exploded around midnight on Sunday on the Samjhauta Express, which connects New Delhi to Lahore in Pakistan, triggering a blaze in two coaches that burned victims alive in Panipat. “All of us have to die someday. There is no need to be scared,” said Ameena Bano, a 63-year-old Pakistani woman, sitting on a large blue bag near the platform before boarding the train in Delhi's chaotic station. Bano, who had been visiting her brother-in-law in India, said those behind the blasts would not achieve their goal. “They want to hurt the improving relations between Pakistan and India but they will not succeed,” she said, as people carrying suitcases pushed their way through security barricades. Although the neighbours are linked by air and bus services as well, the bi-weekly train is more popular with mostly the middle-class and poor travellers as it is cheaper. As it was relatively less guarded by security agencies, investigators suspect the train may have been targeted by Muslim extremists who are opposed to a peace process between the neighbours and want to derail it. Authorities said security lapses at the station had allowed the attackers to place the suitcase bombs on the train. On Wednesday, they stepped up checks to unprecedented levels, using sniffer dogs and manually searching luggage. Relatives and friends were not allowed on the platform to see off passengers and armed policemen stood guard by the blue coaches. “We are having security like they have at the airports,” Rajiv Saxena, a railway spokesman, said. “Even I am not allowed on the platform.” Railway officials said the blasts had not hurt bookings for the Samjhauta Express which left just after midnight. Wednesday's service was fully booked with about 700 passengers making the journey and two extra coaches added to meet the rush. Haji Habibul Rehman, a cloth-store owner from Pakistan's Punjab province travelling to Lahore, said he had been due to travel on the ill-fated train on Sunday but was forced to cancel the trip due to a delayed medical appointment. “A doctor's appointment saved us,” said Rehman, 52. “Those who carried out these attacks do not want Pakistanis and Indians to meet. But people must travel and meet and show we are not scared, even of death.”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Muslim support for terror

The myth of Muslim support for terror

The issue is not Muslims V. Christians or Jews, Palestinians V. Israelis or other wise, the issue is simply bad people V. all of us.

Blaming Muslims does no good, and it is downright stupid, it rather aggravates the situation to blame Muslims for the acts of a few. It is like saying Americans are bad people for the inhuman acts of those at Abu-Ghraib.

Throw me in the Jail for the wrongs I do, but do not blame my family, my neighbors, my religion or my nation. By blaming the religion, we are pissing of the good people who follow that religion.

Shoot me with a good aim, hoping I am the target but don't shoot blindly and run down Afghanistan, Iraq and the universe. Destroying others for the acts of few have caused the people to be agitated who would otherwise would not have been. We look like maniacs with an open gun with no aim. We need to laser bark

http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/12/laser-barking-bark-at-the-terrorists-not-islam.htm . We need compassionate people around to make the world a better place and not revengers.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith and civic issues. He has appeared on the local affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS and FOX and has been written up the news papers. He founded the World Muslim Congress on the belief that 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, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. His articles can be found at www.FoundationforPluralism.com , and http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/

The myth of Muslim support for terror

The common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews.
By Kenneth Ballen
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0223/p09s01-coop.html

DEAN ROHRER
WASHINGTON - Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria .
The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland 's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified."


Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia , Pakistan , Bangladesh , and Nigeria . Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are "never justified"; in Pakistan , that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh , 81 percent.

Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers?
Hardly. Yet, far too often, Americans and other Westerners seem willing to draw that conclusion about Muslims. Public opinion surveys in the United States and Europe show that nearly half of Westerners associate Islam with violence and Muslims with terrorists. Given the many radicals who commit violence in the name of Islam around the world, that's an understandable polling result.

But these stereotypes, affirmed by simplistic media coverage and many radicals themselves, are not supported by the facts – and they are detrimental to the war on terror. When the West wrongly attributes radical views to all of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, it perpetuates a myth that has the very real effect of marginalizing critical allies in the war on terror.

Indeed, the far-too-frequent stereotyping of Muslims serves only to reinforce the radical appeal of the small minority of Muslims who peddle hatred of the West and others as authentic religious practice.

Terror Free Tomorrow's 20-plus surveys of Muslim countries in the past two years reveal another surprise: Even among the minority who indicated support for terrorist attacks and Osama bin Laden, most overwhelmingly approved of specific American actions in their own countries. For example, 71 percent of bin Laden supporters in Indonesia and 79 percent in Pakistan said they thought more favorably of the United States as a result of American humanitarian assistance in their countries – not exactly the profile of hard-core terrorist sympathizers. For most people, their professed support of terrorism/bin Laden can be more accurately characterized as a kind of "protest vote" against current US foreign policies, not as a deeply held religious conviction or even an inherently anti- American or anti-Western view.

In truth, the common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews. Whether recruits to violent causes join gangs in Los Angeles or terrorist cells in Lahore , the enemy is the violence they exalt.

Our surveys show that not only do Muslims reject terrorism as much if not more than Americans, but even those who are sympathetic to radical ideology can be won over by positive American actions that promote goodwill and offer real hope.

America 's goal, in partnership with Muslim public opinion, should be to defeat terrorists by isolating them from their own societies. The most effective policies to achieve that goal are the ones that build on our common humanity. And we can start by recognizing that Muslims throughout the world want peace as much as Americans do.

• Kenneth Ballen is founder and president of Terror Free Tomorrow, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to finding effective policies that win popular support away from global terrorists.

Prayers at City Hall

Invocation at Carrollton City Hall
Mike Ghouse 7:00 PM,Tuesday, Feb 21, 2006


Please allow me to greet you in every religious greeting

AllaAbho, Namaste, Salaam, Shalom, Jai Jinendra, Jai Swami Narayan, Yali Madad, SatsriAkaal, Hamazor Hama Ashobed and a blessed evening to you.

Dear God, we seek your guidance in helping us make the right decisions, please graces us with your blessings.

Dear God, Bless our world, bless our nation, bless our soldiers and bless our Mayor, Council and all those, who are present here to do the right thing.

Dear God, help us keep the purity of our hearts, and help us achieve humility, help us learn to over come our prejudices, our anger and our jealousies, help us over come our ignorance about others of those that You have created.

Dear God, help us not to think less of anyone that you have created.

Dear God, help us not to undermine the divinity of other ways of worshipping you.

Dear God, help us recognize that arrogance and ignorance are the root cause of all evil and protect us from it..

Dear God, help us to know that remembrance of you is the highest goal that humankind can achieve.

Dear God, help us see that our salvation, our peace of mind, our nirvana, our moksha, our mukti, our freedom and joining your kingdom, is directly dependent on living a life of following, submitting and surrendering to you and respecting everything that you have created.

Dear God, help us believe in the supremacy of you and the oneness of the family of humankind.

Dear God, thank you for allowing us to reach this season, for sustaining us, and for bringing us together this evening for this event.

Dear God, takes us from ignorance to enlightenment, from darkness to light.

Dear God, accept our prayers in whichever name we call upon you, we love to call you Ahura Mazda, Allah, Jehovah, Braham, Vishnu, Wahe Guru, Mahavir Swamy, Buddha and Jesus Christ. With your name we begin out meeting.

Amen.

Rama's Bridge

This is our heritage, this is not only an Indian heritage, it should be treated as world heritage site.

We have to preserve this bridge at any cost, indeed, we may need to explore this and bring out the pictures and learn about the science and art of bridge making during the time of Rama. How did they fill the dirt in the ocean, what material they used.

It brings reality to the story of Hanuman going over to Lanka.

This is world history and we need to value it.

Mike Ghouse
www.Mikeghouse.net
Dallas, Texas

It is incredible what you can do with this google map of Rama's bridge.
http://maps.google.com/maps?t=k&hl=en&ll=9.096164,79.556465&spn=0.475962,0.582275

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rama%27s_Bridge

Mysterious happenings at Sethu (Ramar) bridge at Rameswaram

Adams Bridge (popularly known as Sethu bridge or Ramar bridge) at Rameswaram , Southern tip of India is believed to have been constructed by Lord Ram and Hanuman to go to Srilanka to rescue Sita during Ramayana days. Scientists have also confirmed the existence of a bridge and matching of the bridge to the Ramayana days ( see picture on left taken by NASA through satellite)

As part of Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) , Indian Government initiated the process for cutting open the ancient Ramar Bridge. Mysteriously all the costly equipments like cutters, dredgers, spuds, cranes including ships got damaged and fell into the sea.

Generally, Hindus believe that this bridge is being safeguarded by Hanuman and any attempt to damage the bridge would be failure. Inspite of the public sentiments and heritage value of the bridge (as defined by UNESCO), Indian Government wants to go ahead with the dredging of this ancient bridge. According to media reports that the Dredging Corporation of India Limited which has undertaken the project has suffered huge loss and many senior officials have also submitted their resignation.

An advocate Mr Kuppu Ram from Ramanathapuram has filed a case in a court seeking injunction against damaging the ancient bridge.

We are bringing out a special 'news feature' on this 'mysterious events' covering the public sentiments.


Rama's Bridge
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NASA satellite photo of Rama's Bridge—oblique, Sri Lanka to the left

Rama's Bridge seen from above the Mannar island, Sri Lanka.

Rama's Bridge as seen from the air

Map of Rama's Bridge and environs
Rama's Bridge, also called Nala's Bridge and Adam's Bridge is a chain of limestoneshoals, between the islands of Mannar, near northwestern Sri Lanka, and Rameswaram, off the southeastern coast of India. The bridge is 30 miles (48 km) long and separates the Gulf of Mannar (southwest) from the Palk Strait (northeast). Some of the sandbanks are dry and the sea in the area is very shallow, being only 3 ft to 30 ft (1 m to 10 m) deep. This seriously hinders navigation. It was reportedly passable on foot as late as the 15th century until storms deepened the channel.[citation needed]. A ferry service linking the island and port of Rameswaram in India with Talaimannar in Sri Lanka has been suspended for some time due to the fighting between Sri Lankan government forces and the separatist LTTE; the Pamban Bridge links Rameswaram island with mainland India.

Contents
[ hide ]
1 History
2 Archaeology
3 Infrastructure development
4 See also
5 External links



[ edit ] History
The name Rama's Bridge originate in Hindu belief. According to the Hindu epic Ramayana (Chapter 66, The Great Causeway[1]), the bridge was constructed at Rama's request by his allies. The bridge was supported on floating sand rocks but the gods were said to have later anchored the rocks to the sea bed, thus creating the present chain of rocky shoals. It was said to have helped Rama to reach Sri Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king (Asura) called Ravana, who was then the ruler of Lanka.

Some Hindu groups claim that the bridge is evidence that events narrated in the Ramayana epic actually took place and cite NASA's imagery of it as proof of their claims. NASA has distanced itself from such claims:

"The images [...] may be ours, but their interpretation is certainly not ours. [...] Remote sensing images or photographs from orbit cannot provide direct information about the origin or age of a chain of islands, and certainly cannot determine whether humans were involved in producing any of the patterns seen."

[ edit ] Archaeology
Archaeological studies of the bridge are ongoing, and some archaeologists claim to have found evidence suggesting that the bridge may be older than expected.

Sea levels rose about 10 or 20 metres in the 6th millennium BCE to reach levels similar to today, so in 6000 BCE the bridge would have been an isthmus situated above sea level. As such, it almost certainly would have been a viable route for humans to have reached Sri Lanka by dry land..

[ edit ] Infrastructure development
Recently the Government of India has approved a multi-million dollar Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project that aims to create a ship channel across the Palk Strait. The plan is to dredge the shallow ocean floor near the Dhanushkodi end of the Rama's bridge to create enough leeway allowing ships to pass through the channel instead of having to go around the island of Sri Lanka. It is expected to save nearly 30 hours' shipping time by cutting over 400 km off the voyage. However, efforts to conserve the heritage of the bridge has been initiated under the Ram Karmabhoomi movement.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Denying Holocaust

Why they deny the Holocaust
Mike Ghouse 02/18/2006

As a Muslim, I appreciate the column by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Indeed “the world needs to be informed again and again about the Holocaust.” Martin Niemöller’s poem resonates with me every day, when I see the eerie silence on the part of people when an atrocity is committed in front of their eyes.

Ayaan’s statement caught my attention “For the majority of Muslims in the world, the Holocaust is not a major historical event that they deny. We simply do not know it ever happened because we were never informed of it”. The second part of her statement is nearly correct. It is not only Muslim, but most people do not know about Holocaust, each group is consumed in their own pain and no is aware of it. However, the first part is interesting. My mother was a voracious reader, and she had this book in Urdu Language titled “Eishmann, 60 lakh yahoodiyon ka Khatil” – Eishmann, killer of 6 Million Jews. She did not let me read the book; she said that I could not bear the pain and instead I should go out and play Cricket.

As an adult growing up, I did not have the guts to see the movies made on Holocaust, I would cringe upon seeing the rail cars and the ditches with full of bodies, frail bodies and children’s bodies. The fear of seeing human plight was unbearable. I did not even see the Schindler’s list when it was released.

I was part of a Jewish initiative called “Center for Prejudice removal” and was pleased to see the sincere effort the Jewish community was making in this endeavor. I determined that this must be recognized and appreciated. We honored the Jewish Community’s contribution towards a pluralistic America at the 9th Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations & Awards Night by the Foundation for Pluralism.

This led to so many other things, but most importantly the announcement of commemorating the Holocaust on January 27, 2006.

My Jewish friend Bernie gave me the Schindler’s list and I watched it, my fear was real, I did not have the guts to see the horror, however, I made myself see it. My Mom’s word were hung in the air for nearly 50 years, it came to a finale, the words entered my heart and completed the cycle of understanding the pain for me with a strong commitment – Never again. I visited the HolocaustMuseum in Dallas and thanks to Elliott for letting me understand what Holocaust means.

The Muslims of Dallas supported me in this effort. The ideas were to let the Jewish community know that we share the grief and made a commitment of Never again. Holocaust survivor Rosalie & William Schiff shared their story to an audience that sat without even making breathing sound.

My Jewish friend Bernie gave me the Schindler’s list and I watched it, my fear was nearly over, my Mom’s word were hung in the air for nearly 50 years, the entered my heart and completed the cycle of understanding the pain for me with a strong commitment – Never again.

Details of the event, press releases, including a published condemnation letter to AhmediNejad and pictures are at http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Holocaustday.asp . Honoring the Jewish community is at: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/TG2005_REPORT.asp
The the event was covered by CBS as well.

The world is one community, it is in each one’s interest to make it better. http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/05/each-community-each-nation-is-a-bus.htm

We postponed the Holocaust event of January 2007. The Jewish Community and the Muslim community is looking forward to planning the Holocaust 2008, to include all the atrocities mankind has committed in the name of religion or politics. We will present a chrnological listing of all such attrocities, at this time it is sitting in at the following link. http://www.theghouseteam.com/mg/WMC_Extremism.asp. We would include all events be it Kashmiri Pandits, Gujarat Genocide, Darfur, Palestine, Bosnia, Chechnya, Rwanda, China and every place. Please send the list of the events that you know to Foundationforpluralism@gmail.com

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


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http://worldjewishdigest.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=041CF83C296F45DB830D0AC27E9138B0

Why They Deny the Holocaust
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
One day in 1994, when I was living in Ede, a small town in Holland, I got a visit from my half-sister. She and I were both immigrants from Somalia and had both applied for asylum in Holland. I was granted it; she was denied. The fact that I got asylum gave me the opportunity to study. My half-sister couldn’t.

In order for me to be admitted to the university I wanted to attend, I needed to pass three courses: a language course, a civics course and a history course. It was in the preparatory history course that I, for the first time, heard of the Holocaust. I was 24 years old at that time, and my half-sister was 21.

In those days, the daily news was filled with the Rwandan genocide and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. On the day that my half-sister visited me, my head was reeling from what happened to 6 million Jews in Germany, Holland, France and Eastern Europe. I learned that innocent men, women and children were separated from each other. Stars pinned to their shoulders, transported by train to camps, they were gassed for no other reason than for being Jewish.

I saw pictures of masses of skeletons, even of kids. I heard horrifying accounts of some of the people who had survived the terror of Auschwitz and Sobibor. I told my half-sister all this and showed her the pictures in my history book. What she said was as awful as the information in my book.

With great conviction, my half-sister cried: “It’s a lie! Jews have a way of blinding people. They were not killed, gassed or massacred. But I pray to Allah that one day all the Jews in the world will be destroyed.”

S he was not saying anything new. As a child growing up in Saudi Arabia, I remember my teachers, my mom and our neighbors telling us practically on a daily basis that Jews are evil, the sworn enemies of Muslims, and that their only goal is to destroy Islam. We were never informed about the Holocaust.

Later, as a teenager in Kenya, when Saudi and other Persian Gulf philanthropy reached us, I remember that the building of mosques and donations to hospitals and the poor went hand in hand with the cursing of Jews. Jews were said to be responsible for the deaths of babies and for epidemics such as AIDS, and they were believed to be the cause of wars. They were greedy and would do absolutely anything to kill us Muslims. If we ever wanted to know peace and stability, and if we didn’t want to be wiped out, we would have to destroy the Jews. For those of us who were not in a position to take up arms against them, it was enough for us to cup our hands, raise our eyes heavenward and pray to Allah to destroy them.

Western leaders today who say they are shocked by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad’s conference [in December] denying the Holocaust need to wake up to that reality. For the majority of Muslims in the world, the Holocaust is not a major historical event that they deny. We simply do not know it ever happened because we were never informed of it.

The total number of Jews in the world today is estimated to be about 15 million, certainly no more than 20 million. On the other hand, the world’s Muslim population is estimated to be between 1.2 billion and 1.5 billion. And not only is this population rapidly growing, it is also very young.

What’s striking about Ahmadinezhad’s conference is the (silent) acquiescence of mainstream Muslims. I cannot help but wonder: Why is there no counter-conference in Riyadh, Cairo, Lahore, Khartoum or Jakarta condemning Ahmadinezhad? Why are the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference silent on this?

Could the answer be as simple as it is horrifying: for generations, the leaders of these so-called Muslim countries have been spoon-feeding their populations a constant diet of propaganda similar to the one that generations of Germans (and other Europeans) were fed—that Jews are vermin and should be dealt with as such? In Europe, the logical conclusion was the Holocaust. If Ahmadinezhad has his way, he shall not want for compliant Muslims ready to act on his wish.

The world needs to be informed again and again about the Holocaust—not only in the interest of the Jews who survived and their offspring, but in the interest of humanity.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali immigrant who served in the Dutch parliament until early 2006. She is also the author of “Infidel,” an autobiography to be published in February. © 2006 Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
This article first appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How blind can we get?

How blind can we get?

We get blinded by our history of Meer Jaffers and Meer Sadiq’s and lose complete sense of the reality of the world today. That fear is so gripping that we want to live in Isolation. It is this fear that is keeping us left out in all endeavors of the society.

We need to live with confidence and face every thing squarely. No need to run from anything.
We need to go back and re-evaluate our mentality that we have displayed in the following article. ‘Zameer Baichta Hoon, Kharidar Chaahiyay’. We are Meer jaffering Akhtarul Wasey, Sirajuddin Qureshi, Maulana Jamil Ilyasi and Sufi Sant Samagam Umair Ilyasi because they met with Rabbi Yona Metzger.

Let me take a detour of America.

We have an India Association in nearly every city of the United States, how many of us are members of it? Yet we complain that they do things without including us. I simply don’t buy this, I am willing to spend my time with you to change this false accusation, and the problem is with us and our confidence, not with them. Some times, unashamedly we act like we are the 2nd class citizens, by acting we become one. Those boys do things because there is no one to tell them otherwise. You just cannot become a member and demand things, you have to earn the membership, volunteer your time for a while, and you will be heard.

Let’s go back to India.

An insignificant percent of us, the Muslims are involved in politics, big business and civic activities and we are bypassed in a lot of decisions. Economic developments are coming, the Middle Eastern nations are investing… what are we doing, sitting one the sidelines and criticizing.

I am glad those guys met with the Rabbi, even if they are not good Muslim per the author of the article below, at least we had a presence, at least they will not make blatant comments, at least they will honor ( even if it is fraction) their presence. The hate spewed for Jews in inexcusable, is that what we are are good at? Hating Jews and condemning every one who meets with them is a fashion. We need to get out of this tail chasing.

Badhai haath dost ho ke dushmanhum ahl-e dil hain, daman kushada rakhtay hain.

The criticism of the people attended is un-just and downright wrong. You can curse me and get the dil ki bhadas out, if that is what we were good at. We need to change and open ourselves up and I do hope there a few Muslims who would disagree with this article in principle.

Mike Ghouse

Zameer Baichta Hoon, Kharidar Chaahiyay
By: Indianmuslims.infoFebruary 9, 2007

Muslim history bears evidence to the fact that the Meer Jafars and MeerSadiqs have always stabbed in the back of the Ummah just for temporal gainshowsoever great. At peace they pave the way for the fall of the Muslimterritory and at war help the enemies win the ground. So in both cases thesetimeservers from among the ranks and files of the community most brazenlybring disgrace, ignominy and ultimate loss to the community. This past weekIndian Muslims stood shocked and shattered when they found much to theirsheer discomfiture few so-called Muslim representatives shaking hands withJewish rabbis and Zionist think-tanks who were here in the Capital tobuttress the hardcore Hindutva.

In a claimed revealing story, which also proved the inside scoop on theevent, the Hindustan Express of February 7 reported a secret meeting of aJewish delegation with some Hindutva leaders as well as few self-styledMuslim leaders.

“Amidst the ongoing Zionist conspiracies against Muslims at theinternational level, chief rabbis of Israel, in an extraordinary meetingheld here today, exchanged thoughts and views with communal Hindu leadersand devised a course of action to strengthen Jew-Hindu lobby (in India) –obviously to weave a conspiratorial network against Indian Muslims,” thepaper reveals.

“The most important aspect of this meeting,” the paper adds, “is that theIsraeli delegation sought from some Muslim personages, whom they consideredimportant for their cause, useful suggestions to strengthen the Hindu-Jewlobby and also acquaint them with their programmes.”
This extraordinary meeting was reportedly organised by RSS at the residenceof former BJP president LK Advani, in the name of promoting inter-religiousharmony from 7 to 9 p.m. on February 6, followed by a lavish dinner in whichMuslim “Meers” also registered their presence.

The Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and his deputies were present in themeeting. Among Hindutva leaders those present include editor RSS Hindi organPanchjanya Tarun Vijay and BJP leader Balbir Punj. While head Department ofIslamic Studies Jamia Millia Islamia Professor Akhtarul Wasey, chairmanIndia Islamic Cultural Centre Sirajuddin Qureshi, president All India Imamsof Mosques Maulana Jamil Ilyasi and his son and president Sufi Sant SamagamUmair Ilyasi were present there.

The Express report expresses surprises at the fact that it was ProfessorAkhtarul Wasey, projected as a great influential Muslim leader and thepioneer of Hindu-Muslim-Jew unity in India, who led the Jewish delegation toIndia.
Professor Wasey threw light on the utility of Hindu-Jew unity, and alsoconsidered Jew-Muslim unity the most urgent need of the hour.
While contacted, Professor Wasey confirmed to Indianmuslims.info that such ameeting was held. However, he said that this meeting was held under theauspices of World Council of Religious Leaders to discuss the need ofharmony among the various religions. He revealed that he told the Jewishrabbis to ensure justice as without justice peace cannot be established inthe world.

Another meeting, a comparatively open one and with more Muslim presence, washeld at Hotel Oberoi the next day, viz. on February 7. The Express ofFebruary 8, under a very scintillating but shocking headline Zameer bechtahoon kharidaar chahiyey! (we’re selling our conscience, is there anytaker?), reports that despite his frantic efforts to ensure the presence ofall the members of the Executive Council of India Islamic Cultural Centre,Sirajuddin Qureshi could bring only one of them – Supreme Court AdvocateWasi Noamani – with him to attend the meeting at Oberoi. Another importantbut controversial Muslim figure who attended this meeting is MaulanaWahiduddin Khan. And it needs no mention that Professor Wasey was very muchthere. The Israeli Ambassador to India, David Danieli and former Governor ofUttar Pradesh Romesh Bhandari also made their presence in the meeting.

The Express of February 8 editorially comments on the extraordinary event:“If all roads of Zionism are leading to India today, its prime most reasonis that as a nation India is the biggest population and the biggest marketas well… Then there is more conducive atmosphere for the promotion ofZionism prevailing here today than ever before. The country to which oncethe very existence of Israel was not acceptable, which had severely opposedits establishment and had voted against its membership of the UnitedNations, and did not allow to open its embassy up till 1992, has undergonesuch a drastic change in its foreign policy that Israel has emerged today asthe second biggest supplier of arms to India.”

The Express editorial further says: “Pity on the Muslims who are extendingtheir support to this unholy game, and contributing to the Israeli effortsto make India a hotbed of Zionist activities….”

Hindu-Jew agreement signedOn February 8, besides the Express, the Rashtriya Sahara , which came underscanner last week for supporting the Qadiani and Israeli causes in India,also carried a UNI release reporting an agreement signed to strengthenHindu-Jew unity. The agreement was signed by Israel’s Chief Rabbi Metzgerand Convenor Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha Swami Dayananda Saraswati at the endof the two days meetings. The UNI report did mention the presence of someMuslims in the meetings but did not mention their names. It also says thatWorld Council of Religious Leaders (WCORL) contributed to the inking of thisagreement.

Muslims’ condemnationThe meeting of self-styled Muslims with Jewish rabbis has sent shock wavesthrough the large segments of Muslim masses in India. Indian Muslims fail tocomprehend the reason why few self-styled Muslim leaders are becominginstrumental in the hands of Zionists by meeting Jewish rabbis and Israeliambassador particularly at a time when the Israel’s efforts to demolishMasjid al-Aqsa are going on.

The Express of February 9 carries wide condemnation of the Meer Jafars fortheir act of treachery by the various Muslim individuals and organisations,including Shahi Imam Masjid Fatehpuri Delhi Mufti Mukarram Ahmad, SecretaryJamiat Ulama-i-Hind Maulana Abdul Hameed Noamani, Jamaat-e-Islami HindAssistant Secretary Intizar Naeem, Kamal Farooqui, president MuslimPolitical Council of India Dr Tasleem Ahmad Rahmani, general secretary AllIndia Tanzeemul Muslimeen Habeebullah Hashmi, president All India MinoritiesConference Piyarey Mian. They have termed the event ‘unfortunate,’ and theself-styled Muslims ‘treacherous’ and ‘deceitful’. Some of them called theseMeers ‘BJPmen’ and some others averred ‘they do not represent the Muslimcommunity’; they are ‘self-styled’.

Dr Tasleem Rahmani said, “No one can be allowed to go against theagreed-upon view of Muslim Ummah on Israel howsoever great and wealthy hemay be and howsoever high posts he may hold… Such a meeting of Muslimleaders with the (Jewish) delegation hurts the sentiments of Muslims and thevery personality of these leaders becomes doubtful.

Institutions like India Islamic Cultural Centre and Jamia Millia Islamia arethe trust of Ummah and it does not behove the functionaries of suchinstitutions, even in their personal capacity, to establish relationshipswith anti-Muslim people and organisations, not to say of bringing disgraceto the entire community by holding meetings with anti-Muslim Israelidelegation.”

On February 9 the Inquilab carried a brief but front-paged report of boththe meetings held at Advani’s residence on February 6 and at Hotel Oberoi onFebruary 7, mentioning the names of the Muslims who participated in themeetings.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Fall of Fascism

The Fall of Fascism
Mike Ghouse Feb 15, 2007


Jimmy Carter is condemned unanimously by all the Jewishorganizations, when he used the word Aparthied to describe Israel'spolicies. I have not seen any dissenting voice from the Jewishcommunity yet, those who do, they get hounded immediatly. After all it isa discussion. I must congratulate the Jewish group in UK to dispelthis myth of monolithic ascribe to the Jewish community.

The Jewish community ought to learn from India, our PM related thetreatement of our downtrodden to apartheid. I have not heard suchcondemnations as we have heard about Jimmy Carter. Even the Fox andCNN idiots did not have the guts to question them.

Islam's monolithic appearance got shook up after 9/11. Dissentingvoices were brutally suppresed, as it is practiced in the Jewishcommunity. Fatwa carried the weight and frightened the dissenters.They threatened Rushdie and Nasreen and harassed Nomani, Wadud, Manjiand a few others. Today, the fascits have lost the steam and themoderate normal common Muslims are gaining the ground.

No Muslim is afraid of questioning anything about Qur'aan, theprophet (pbuh), the hadith and the Sharia. At least it is happeningin all the democracies, it is yet to happen in Iran, Afghanistan andSaudi Arabia, the bastions of literalism and centers of intolerance.It is not the people, it is sadly their governments, given thefreedom, most people are moderates.

Gujarati Hindus are not a monolothic group either, but the loud onesare intolerant to hear one single criticism of Modi. You will beharassed endlessly, you will be even called un-patriotic. In ademocracy like India, you cannot show certain movies, such is thepower of fascism there, or rather fear of fascim is prevalent. Themajority of Gujarati's are caring people like every other group andare moderates. However, they are scared to criticize.

We may want to label this decade - but I think we can comfortably saythat it is "the decade of quick rise and fall of fascism" in manynations but at least in India, Israel, United States, Iraq, Iran,Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan.

India was getting there, but thanks to the Indians, they did not putup with the fascist government and they got rid of them. With theunprecedented growth we are experiencing, we don't need people whosefocus is dividing India up and stirring trouble where there was none.I trust my people, they will keep the lid on the fascists.

Israel was getting to be a virtual fascist nation, it is also losingthe ground now. Nov 7th has brought our Unilateral king to groundrealities in the United States and he will be out soon. Saddam is gone, Talibans are going to be gone, Ahmedinejad will be voted out by 2008 that leaves Saudi Arabia - where even today the governmenteither tolerates fatwas or encourages them from the back. Don't knowwhen they will fall, but they will.

Fascim is a dangerous virus, we need to prepare the society to beimmune to it. Any time, any one frightens us with the threat of a manufactured enemy, we need to guard ourselves, a fascits leader will be taking birth.

Yes, Muslims should do their part, the engine was jump started on 9/11and we have a long way to go, but go, we will. The ride will not be a smooth one, at least until it reaches the freeway, that is about 10 years away.

I thank the authors of the following two pieces " British Jews take on Israeli Lobby" and " No Muslim Peril". I urge you to read them.

MikeGhouse
www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
www.FoundationforPluralism.com

British Jews take on Israeli lobby
http://www.hindu.com/2007/02/13/stories/2007021301591000.htm
Hasan Suroor


Their campaign is meant to challenge the claim of the Israeli state and its proxy institutions abroad to represent the opinion of all Jews, especially on the Palestinian issue.


SOME OF the leading British Jewish intellectuals such as Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter, Marxist thinker Eric Hobsbawm, and film-maker Mike Leigh have come together on a common platform with a cross-section of others from the community to start a debate on free speech. This, they hope, will encourage independent voices in other communities also to stand up against attempts to gag them in the name of religious, ethnic, and national "solidarity."

In what has been billed as a "unilateral declaration of independence" from the Jewish Establishment, their campaign is meant to challenge the claim of the Israeli state and its proxy institutions abroad to represent the opinion of all Jews, especially on the Palestinian issue. More significantly, it questions the idea that any criticism of Israel is, ipso facto, an attack on the Jewish people and therefore amounts to anti-semitism.

It is this aspect of the campaign, launched by the newly created Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) last week, that has wider resonance. No doubt, Jewish sensitivities around race identity and nationhood are particularly acute because of the history of their persecution but it is not something unique to Jews. We have all met Muslims who see any criticism of their community as an attack on Islam itself; Hindus who regard critics of Hindutva as anti-Hindu; and Sikhs who are quick to dub the slightest criticism of Sikh practices an insult to their faith.

Novelist and writer Lisa Appignanesi, joining the IJV debate on The Guardian's Comment is Free website, makes an interesting point saying that many of the coordinated attempts to silence public expression have come from faith or immigrant groups and have been directed against their own people. "It was young Muslims who, back in 1989, burned Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. It was Sikh rioters and a critical community who managed to close Gurpreet Bhatti's play Behzti, because the rape she depicted of a girl by an elder was considered shaming. The filming of Monica Ali's Brick Lane had to move to a secret location after protests from a small group of local Bangladeshis. Groups — who may in some way feel vulnerable — confound dissent with disloyalty," she says.

Given the long and robust tradition of argument and debate among Jews, she feels sad that they too should have been "infected" by the same "spirit of intolerance, the same attempt at silencing dissenting views" as the more vulnerable immigrant groups.

What the IJV has set out to challenge is the attempt to force people into medieval-style tribal loyalties by calling them disloyal and unpatriotic if they don't sing from the same sheet. For example, if an Indian is not seen cheering the current hype over India's "great" future his nationalistic credentials become immediately suspect; a Pakistani must share the Establishment view on Kashmir or be open to the charge of sleeping with the enemy; and in George W. Bush's America the stark choice is: either you are with "us" or with the enemies of America.

Indeed, the provocation that led to the formation of IJV happened on American soil when an influential Jewish lobby, which wants all Jews to be unquestioningly loyal to the Israeli state and its policies, picked a fight with those who insist that they have a democratic right to make legitimate criticism of the Israeli Government's policies without inviting the charge of "disloyalty." The trouble started a few weeks ago when the American Jewish Committee (AJC), one of America's oldest and most powerful Jewish advocacy groups, published an article calling upon the community to "confront" Jews who, according to it, were engaged in attacking Zionism and the Jewish state. It also attacked playwright Tony Kushner and the U.S.-based British historian Tony Judt — both prominent liberal Jews — denouncing their criticism of Israel as "anti-semitic." Professor Judt hit back with an interview in The New York Times accusing AJC of trying to stifle dissenting views about Israel. "The link between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism is newly created," he said calling it a "political defence of Israeli policy."

Last October, a lecture Professor Judt was to give at the Polish consulate in New York was suddenly cancelled under pressure from AJC and other Jewish lobby groups protesting against an article in which he called for the creation of a secular bi-national state of Jews and Palestinians. The Polish consul general at the time acknowledged receiving telephone calls from hardline Jewish lobby groups. "The phone calls were very elegant but may be interpreted as exercising a delicate pressure," said Krzysztof Kasprzyk.
In Britain, the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, an independent think-tank, was embroiled in a controversy when a number of its high-profile members resigned protesting the remarks of its director Tony Lerman reportedly questioning the viability of Israel and arguing for a Jewish-Arab state. The comment, made long before he joined the institute, was seen as anti-semitic and tantamount to proposing the "suicide of the state of Israel."
It was against this background that IJV was launched. In its manifesto published, the group says that its aim is to promote alternative Jewish voices particularly in respect of the "grave situation in the Middle East which threatens the future of both Israelis and Palestinians as well as the stability of the whole region."

The group, comprising Jews from diverse backgrounds and political affiliations, is united by its members' "strong commitment to social justice and universal human rights." It is also defined by what a prominent member of the group called its "abhorrence" of a "culture of vilification" in which anyone who does not support the official Israeli policies is denounced as a "traitor" or a "self-hating Jew."

The IJV sees itself as a response to a climate in which many Jews feel frightened to speak openly about Israel's approach to the Palestinian issue for fear of being vilified by Jewish organisations such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, whose aim ostensibly is to promote the interests of British Jews but which, its critics say, has effectively become a mouthpiece for the Israeli government.

"People are anxious about contravening an unwritten law on what you can and cannot discuss, may or may not assert. It is a climate that raises fundamental questions: about freedom of expression, Jewish identity, representation, and the part that concerned Jews in Britain can play in assisting Israelis and Palestinians to find their way to a better future," wrote Brian Klug, a Jewish Oxford academic and an IJV activist, in The Guardian.

Not monolithic

Apart from seeking to uphold the right of individual Jews to speak openly about Israeli actions, IJV campaigners want to highlight that Jews are not a monolithic entity with a collective worldview. Equally importantly, they want to expose the "fallacy" of Israeli claims that the worldwide Jewish community supports all its policies whether in relation to the Palestinian territories or elsewhere. Many Jews in Britain and elsewhere — indeed including Israel — were angry when during the Israel-Lebanon crisis last summer, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "I believe that this is a war that is fought by all the Jews."

They questioned Mr. Olmert's claim saying it was misleading and part of Israeli claim to represent Jews all over the world. "This is a fallacy; and moreover a dangerous one, since it tars all Jews with the same brush. Yet this misconception is reinforced here (in Britain) by those who, claiming to speak for British Jews collectively or allowing that impression to go unchallenged, only ever reflect one position on the Middle East," said Professor Klug.

The view is echoed in the IJV manifesto, which says that the group believes that the broad spectrum of opinion among British Jews is not reflected by those institutions that claim authority to represent the Jewish community as a whole. "We further believe that individuals and groups within all communities should feel free to express their views on any issue of public concern without incurring accusations of disloyalty," it says.

A five-point charter, which will guide the group, stresses that human rights are universal and indivisible, and the rights of Palestinians living in occupied territories are as important as those of Israelis. This principle, it points out is "contradicted" when those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and elsewhere consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of an occupied people. The IJV declares support for the Palestinian struggle and opposes any attempt by Israel to impose its own solutions on the Palestinians.

However, the significance of such an initiative lies not so much in the position it takes on individual issues but in its attempt to reclaim the great Jewish intellectual tradition from Israeli propagandists and lobbyists. Britain's Jews have set an example. Will Muslims care to follow?


No Muslim Peril
by Charley Reese by Charley Reese

Let's suppose that I interviewed David Duke, the Louisiana politician who rails against what he calls Jewish supremacy, and also interviewed the lunatic preacher who disrupted the funerals of American servicemen with his message of killing all the gays.

And let's suppose I presented these men's views as typical of American Christian thought.
You'd say, and rightly so, that these men are not representative of mainstream Christianity, much less mainstream America. Well, the same thing applies to Islam. There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. Broadcasting or reporting the words of a few extremists does not reflect mainstream Muslim thought.

Yellow journalism is never all right, but as long as it's confined to celebrities and other nonimportant matters, it is at least not too harmful. But yellow journalism applied to national security and to foreign affairs should be considered unacceptable.

A number of irresponsible journalists and broadcasters, egged on by the crazy neocons, are trying to duplicate the mass fear of foreigners that characterized earlier times in America when demagogues spoke of the "yellow peril." Now demagogues speak of the "jihadi peril." And, as was inevitable, the demagoguery slips away from Muslim extremists and talks about Muslims and Islam as if there were no difference.

Yes, there are some Muslim extremists, just as there are some Christian extremists, Hindu extremists, Jewish extremists and so forth. Extremism is a personality disorder not confined to any one religion or political system. Anyone can become infected with it.

Islam has been around for more than 1,300 years. The overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful people, just like you and I, and they are not plotting to storm the citadels of the West. Muslim countries are full of universities, professors, poets, novelists, scientists and engineers. It was the Muslims who preserved the wisdom of the classical world and passed it on to the Europeans, thus making the Renaissance possible.

And there have been American Muslims since at least the late 1800s. Most of them so assimilated into American society that no one noticed them. They are as patriotic as any other American.

Most of the conflict in the Middle East – at least until we stirred the caldron in Iraq – is about secular matters, not religion. Hamas and Islamic Jihad oppose Israeli occupation of Palestine. Hezbollah opposes Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Even Osama bin Laden, if you bother to read what he says, opposes us on secular matters – support for Israel, the invasion of two Muslim countries and our massive military presence in the Persian Gulf.

The neocons would like to convince you that it is a war over religious matters so they won't have to address the real causes, which are our own bad policies in that part of the world.
You should know that the wealthy powers in this world wouldn't waste a dime on a religious conflict. It's control of the world's oil that interests them, and also the arms business. War to them is a profitable enterprise, especially since they and their children don't have to fight the wars.

These elite almost panicked when communism collapsed. How could they maintain power and make money without an enemy at the gate? Then bin Laden gave them exactly what they wanted with the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Now they have an enemy so ill-defined, their "war on terror" can go on forever, provided they can keep the American public ignorant and ill-informed.
February 10, 2007

Charley Reese [ send him mail ] has been a journalist for 49 years.
© 2007 by King Features Syndicate, Inc

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY
Mike Ghouse Feb 13, 2007

Every time we have a cultural festival which once may have been a religious festival, a few of our brothers and sisters will start giving their opinions in terms of right or wrong.

They are more than welcome to it, as long as they practice it and not bother others with their impositions. Tomorrow on Valentines Day, the news papers in India , Pakistan , Bangladesh , Afghanistan and Kuwait will carry articles of how individuals were harassed, and stores were vandalized. Sadly it is in both Hindu and Muslim communities, rather in non-Christian communities. Let me qualify that… it is less than 1/10th of 1% of the people who do this.

Who authorizes these goons to go and harass the people for expressing their affection for each other? I do hope, the police undertake their responsibility to protect their citizens.

A while ago a survey was done and the question was asked, who is a Muslim?

The answers, among many responses were:
i) someone who wears a beard, ii) their women wear Hijab, iii) men who wear pants short of full length and other responses you can imagine.

If a similar question were to be asked, who is a Hindu?

The possible answers would be: i) some one who puts a dot or chalk lines on the forehead, ii) someone who takes a dip in river Ganges iii) someone who does not eat meat iii) their women wear wrap around clothes and many more response you can imagine.

Would you prefer the above identifications or the following ID?

I) some one who tells the truth, ii) some one who is trust worthy, iii) some one who is modest, iv) someone who cares about other people, v) some one who volunteers his or her time for making the society a better place to live, vi) some one who is reliable …..

I am certain; members of each religion can give innumerable examples for this ID from both religions. I encourage you to write your comments. http://mikeghouse.blogspot.com/2007/02/happy-valentines-day.html

Despite its origins, Valentine’s Day is a designated day to celebrate love,
where two people chose to express their affection for each other.

Wait a minute! Please do not jump to conclusions that Valentine’s Day is about lust or repugnant behavior. Then it becomes your personal problem that I suggest you to keep it to yourselves.

Valentine Day is a universal expression of affection between any two individuals. Between husband and wife, between two people in love, be it mother and son, father daughter, brother sister, friends, uncles, aunties…. Grand Pa and Grand Ma.

This expression of affection can range between any family members and any friends. Love does not have any bounds. The Sadhus and Sufis also can say happy Valentine to God.

Please feel free to say happy valentine to your sister, mother, brother, daughter, dad, uncle or a friend. It is a much bigger word now than it started out to be. Take them out for dinner send them a flower to let them know that you care.

And I do care about each one of you.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Mike Ghouse
Added today:

There is Mother's day; our culture and our faith talks about Mothers' place being the highest. The American culture formalizes that into really doing something about it and it is a beautiful day.

There is Father's day, same story.

There is Rakhi, same story. It is not about Hinduism any more, it is about caring for the sister and honorably it originated in the Hindu culture. The affection between brother and sister is one of the most beautiful relationships to be cherished.

From a pagan tradition, the valentine' day moved on to becoming a culture of the people living in the western hemisphere, and now it is embracing love and affection in general. It is caring about the people you love, a special day for it. We do care every day in theory, in practice, like all human beings we forget. This day formally reminds us to honor the loved ones.

It has no more religious connotations, although to become a universal affection day, it will take another decade.

I am talking about the vandalism and compulsions that goes on today - Hindu's need not gloat nor Muslims for the errant behavior of the few today in the Subcontinent. The extreme element is same in all faiths.

Globalizing is happening - from a narrow romantic meaning, the Valentine's day is going global, becoming an all inclusive day.
added on 2/15/07 in response to a question.

It depends on what culture means; to some, it is the way we live, go to work, celebrate weddings, festivals, mourn, meet and greet, what we wear and what and how we eat.
The Subcontinentian Culture is distinctly different from Arab Culture, where Islam originated and again it is different from the Filipino culture.

The Milaad we celebrate, the homage to the Wali Allahs Mazaars ( few oppose, few are neutral and few make it their duty), the way we name ourselves are all different in each Muslim community – The differentiating factor is Culture.

The Sarees our women wear, the red Saree on the wedding eve, the foods are different in each Muslim community, they are even different within India. That is a cultural difference.
The names we give to our children – are different than the Arab Names and different than Latino Muslim names. When men and women converted to Islam, right from Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to all the Sohabis (associates)…. None of them changed their names. They kept the original names.
When they moved to Iran, Egypt and elsewhere … Muslim conquerors did not push the way they name themselves, nor their eating habits or clothing habits on to the subject population. Islam was not, and is not an imperialistic religion. It is a religion of freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of worshiping the divine.

Culture and Islam are two different things, if you find other wise, I am open to learning.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Zoroastrians face reforms

Zoroastrian faith faces reforms

It is human to falter, it is human to be selective and it is human to justify what works.

Throughout the ages, religions have either gone through a reform or about to go through the debates on the interpretation and intent of the original texts.

I am pleased to share two stories that my uncle told me about how the rituals evolve and how faith works.

A small boat is caught amidst storm in the middle of an ocean, all the passengers are scared to death and the boat is rocking in huge waves. A lot of screaming, praying and cursing was going on with no hope of survival. One of the men starts getting up, and his friend asks him what he was doing "Prayers" says the man. The Friend immediately attempts to pull him down " you are such an evil person and you dare not say the prayers". The man disregards the friend and loudly asks every one to join him in the prayer. "Dear Allah life and death is in your hands, and we ask you to save us at this point.... he goes on and on." So they do. An hour later, the boat reaches the beach. Every one gets off and falls on the feet of this great sage whose prayers saved their lives. His friend pulls him over and shouts in his ears, what if the boat had sunk? The man responds, there would not have been any one left to question me, duh!

Another great sage starts walking towards the Ganga (Ganges) River with a brass tumbler in his hand, the people on the bank are in awe and wanted to have he blessings with him. As the sage gets closer to the water, he decides that he has to find a way to save his brass water container.... so he decides to bury it in the sand. He realizes that he has to identify the place when he returns from bathing so he finds a stick, and sticks it in the ground. Well, after a good dip, he returns to find thousands of sticks in the sand.... by his observant followers. Many (not all) a rituals, even today start in a similar manner. Many of us have the tendencies to follow whatever method a smart woman or man follow in a party.

Many a rituals in religions have evolved out of respect to the elderly, a teacher or a sage. One fine day, some one will question that rite? A beginning of divide. Some just want to follow what was being done for years and some do not feel the need for it.

My theory is that, whenever a group increases in size, there will be a competition for influence between two individuals, and each one would have a base group of supporters. Most of the times, the original issue is lost but personalities become the issue. Who do you support, do you support strong enough to split?

All religions will eventually go through debates and most of them have seen a split or know it is coming. Hinduism has many traditions since its inception, it is based on how they believe and worship the same divinity differently. Christianity saw the reform hit them around the 16th Century. Judaism has seen the split between the reformed and orthodox, so is Jainism. Buddhism has gone through many changes now and there are over 4 different groups. Islam went through some reform during from 10th thru the 14th centuries and is facing it again in a massive way. Sikhism and Baha'i are relatively new faiths and they are yet to go through it, however one of the oldest faiths - Zoroastrianism is facing some challenges now.

What is a reform? The issue with most people is the word "reform" itself. Why do we need it? What is wrong with what we have?

Reform is not turning the religion upside down nor denying any of the truths about it. It is rather the desire in an individual to understand the original intent. A few want to understand the essence of their faith and meaning of the rituals. Some do not see the need for a change, it is working for a whole millennia, why change now? The traditionalists feel that some wants to change things for his or her convenience while the reformists want to be in tune with the essence and just not follow it.

If we can take all of this as a naturally evolving process, and honoring individual's desire to know, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.


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

Rebel Parsis ready with Agiary Plan

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/net/mmpaper.aspx?page=article§id=15&contentid=20070208030508890eef54e2eManoj R NairIt could be an event quite unprecedented in the3000-year-old history of the Zoroastrian religion.

A groupof reformists in the community, called the Association forRevival of Zoroastrianism (ARZ), are planning to set up anagiary or fire temple that will be open to spouses ofcommunity members married outside the fold.The move is likely to create a storm in the community whichbars entry at fire temples to non-Parsis, includingnon-Parsi women married to Parsis and children of Parsiwomen married outside the community.

In August 2005, the group had converted a Colaba apartmentinto a prayer hall more liberal in allowing people to attendreligious ceremonies. The hall also offered navjote orinitiation ceremonies for children of Parsi women marriedoutside the community.Currently, navjote is allowed only if both parents areParsis or if the father is from the community. Non-Parsiwomen married into the community, however, are not allowedto convert, though their children can be initiated into thefaith.

The new fire temple will come up on the Malad-Goregaonstretch of the Western Express Highway near the Nirloncolony, one of the newest Parsi community housing estates.The donor of the land is a business family from thecommunity. The final deeds for the property are in theprocess of being signed, an ARZ trustee said.The announcement about the construction of the fire templewill be made at a function on February 10 at Talyarkhan Hallwhere Zoroastrian scholar Dina McIntyre will deliver alecture on ‘Zoroastrianism: A Universal Religion’.Construction is expected to start once the final deeds arecompleted.Solicitor and columnist Berjis Desai, who advocates thereformist point of view, said that consecration of a firetemple was a long and elaborate process. “There is adifference between a prayer hall and an agiary, theconsecration of which is difficult. However, an attempt willbe made to go as close as we can to the setting up of afull-fledged agiary,” he said.

Kerssie Wadia, a chartered accountant and ARZ trustee, said,“All Zoroastrians, including converts, will be allowedinto the fire temple. However, this should not give thesignal that we are into conversions,” said Wadia.The group feels that admitting the spouses and children ofParsis who have married outside the community is the onlyway to save their faith and bolster their declining numbers.It is estimated that one in three Parsis now marry outsidethe community.

The announcement for the construction of the new agiary isexpected to create another furore in the community after thecontroversy over photographs of decomposing bodies at theTowers of Silence that were circulated by Lamington Roadresident Dhun Baria.However, Desai said that he did not expect much oppositionfrom orthodox members. “When we said earlier that firetemples should be opened to non-Parsi spouses, we were toldthat we could set up our own fire temple for thatpurpose,” Desai added.The Association of Inter-married Zoroastrians, a grouplargely comprising Parsi women married outside thecommunity, is supporting the ARZ initiative.