HOME | ABOUT US | Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | www.CenterforPluralism.com | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com You can send an email to: MikeGhouseforIndia@gmail.com

Friday, May 30, 2008

In Memory of Najma Ghouse

In the memory of our dear “Choti Apa”
By M. Hamed Hussain Aghai.

Dallas’ famous ICON, a medical technologist, a real estate professional, and a true volunteer, Najma Ali Ghouse passed away peacefully on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008 at 7:20 pm at her home. She courageously fought cancer, a long battle for nine months, never losing her spirit of faith. Within minutes after her sad demise, news reached hundreds of people in the North American continent and overseas. Relatives and friends immediately gathered to pay their last respects to their departed leader.

Najma apa was born on October 2, 1947 in Hyderabad. Her parents moved to Pakistan shortly after Pakistan was created. Najma apa was very proud of her Hyderabadi and Pakistani heritage. Shortly after her marriage, she moved with her husband and two little daughters to United States in 1972 to join her younger brother, Jawed Yousuf and made Dallas, Texas their new home. Later in the mid seventies, she had her third child.

Najma apa excelled in her academic career and was a recipient of several distinctions and awards in her college and at inter collegiate level competition. Her professional career as a medical technologist at major hospitals in the Dallas area in various facets ranging from mid management to senior management level was extremely valued and recognized. She not only had enormous love but also great talent in Urdu poetry. She served as a moderator (an emcee) at several grand mushaira (Urdu poetry gathering) and received numerous compliments for a job well done.

Allah, the Almighty had blessed her with many great talents but her relationship from her first marriage ended in 1988. Some years later, she was married to Mike Mohamed Ghouse on July 4th, 1996. With the start of her new relationship, her professional career took a new turn in the field of real estate business. Allah bestowed her with outstanding success in her new venture. It seemed like what ever she touched was turned into gold. She always had great compassion for the less fortunate and she was always touched by who were helpless. Even with a hectic business schedule and keeping up with clients, she had this thought, brewing in her mind to find a way to reach out to the less fortunate people within her own community. Finally, she was able to find few professionals who teamed up with her to form a non profit agency to help less fortunate individuals at various capacities. She volunteered countless hours, days, and nights for various agencies that she and others have jointly established. Even today, many individuals are seeking valuable services from these agencies.

At home she kept herself busy maintaining a beautiful garden. After her morning prayers she would be busy watering her plants in the backyard and around the house. She decorated her front of the house by planting seasonal flowers. She was very fond of gardening and often gave valuable tips to the family and friends in the field of gardening.

Despite of her busy schedule, her religious events and activities were hosted with full of love and devotion. She made sure her guests were treated and fed well. Since she moved to Dallas, Texas she initiated hosting the traditional “Eid Brunch” at her house for Ramazan and Bakhr Eid. All the family members and close friends had a wonderful time and one could easily feel her love for her guests.

After fulfilling her community goals, she felt she had missed something. Not too long ago, in 2006 she also ran for a city council position in the city of Carrollton, Texas and she honored me by appointing as her campaign treasurer. She ran the race very professionally, courageously, and she fared well in the several debates with her other opponents. She stood up for what she believed and faced with some tough challenges during her campaign. The race was very close and she had lost marginally but it was a great experience and she had learned a lot in her short political career.

Lastly, I have to say a few words about Najma apa as to how I first got impressed with her dynamic personality. She was the key person who helped arranged my marriage with Rafia, her younger sister in March of 1984. She played a pivotal role in our wedding. I still remember very well the comfort and support she had given me on the saanchak night by sitting next to me at the time of the “mehndhi” rasam (ritual). I was surrounded by all women with no men near me. Her support and advice had given me an immense strength instantaneously during the entire ceremony. Our wedding might have been the first wedding in the Dallas area that was performed with all the rituals and customs at her house in Garland, Texas. Few of our friends still talk about the great memories from our wedding. I have some great memories with her. Occasionally, I visited her on Saturdays and cooked “upma” (a south Indian delicacy made of rice flour. It is also called cream of wheat) or I fried some goodies while she would make some hot and mushy “khichdi”. She enjoyed talking to me in original Urdu (as spoken in Hyderabad). We often exchanged some famous couplets of few poets like, Ghalib, Mir, and others. It all seems like a mere dream now. It reminds me of a commercial that airs on desi TV by Nationwide Insurance Company – Life comes at you fast. And it is absolutely right. It also reminds of the proverb “Art is long, life is short”.

Najma apa was proud of her grandchildren and she loved spending time with her grandchildren. She has four grand sons and one grand daughter. Alizae, the oldest and the only grand daughter was very close and dear to her. Last year when Alizae visited Najma apa for summer vacation, she had spent all of her time with Alizae. She had Alizae with her visiting her clients, inspecting properties, dining, and watching movies.

Najma apa had a big heart and love to help people. She was very strong in her faith and lived her life accordingly. She lived life to the fullest and will be greatly missed, and we thank Allah, the Almighty for having her for sixty years in this world.

Those left to treasure her many memories are her husband, her beloved mother, three sisters, four brothers, three daughters, and five grandchildren along with numerous nieces and nephews. With deep sense of my love to her, I pray to Allah, the Almighty to bless her with highest place in the Jannath, Aameen! Apa, true people of Allah never die.

Najma apa, you are in a better place than us and you can see us all but unfortunately we cannot see you or hear you. Enjoy the eternal peace that Allah, the Almighty has bestowed upon you and insha’Allah we will join you sooner or later. Insha’Allah, once we join you we will have our traditional “galput” in the Jannath again.

With my sincere love,

M. Hamed Hussain Aghai.

Taare Zameen Par

This is one of the best written film reviews I have seen, and it happens to be by a mature teen journalist Alyzae Feroz, my grand daughter.

Taare Zameen Par
By: Alyzae Feroz

The Bollywood film ‘Taare Zameen Par’ portrays a strong and important message that transcends through culture, race and religion. The title of the film directly translates from Hindi to ‘Stars upon the ground.’ The director Aamir Khan uses this metaphor to enlighten audiences of the idea that children are like stars in the world, and that every child is special in his or her own way. Unlike the conventional bollywood film that consists of romance, comedy, fight scenes, songs and more romance, Taare Zameen Par is not an entertainer, but rather an eye opener.

The film touches on a social disorder predominately within the Indian subcontinent and other parts of Asia. Parents are constantly pressuring their children to excel in all areas of life especially school; therefore no one has patience or sympathy toward slow learners. Everyone is required to join the rat race and win it too.

The story of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ is about eight-year-old Ishaan Awasthy who suffers from dyslexia. He has failed the 3rd grade twice now, and things aren’t getting any better. Ishaan complains that the words on pages ‘dance’ and writing and spelling is terrible. Despite this, he has an abnormal inclination towards art and successfully creates captivating paintings. His parents and teachers fail to realize his problem of dyslexia and send him off to boarding school with the accusation of insolence towards schoolwork. Things only became worse at boarding school; he slips into depression and misses his mother. Fortunately for Ishaan, a new art teacher joins the boarding school and re-habilitates the young boy so that he may legitimately compete with fellow classmates.

Taare Zameen Par is so compelling because it evokes the emotions of a scared little boy who does not understand his place in life. No matter how hard he tries, he keeps walking into the same wall, his struggle and bravery to face the world is truly inspiring. Ishaan is the character who stood out the most, child artist Darsheel Safary accurately portrayed every nuance of a gifted child who suffers from such humiliation, trauma and torture.

In terms of technicalities the director took a spin on things by adding animations to depict what was happening in the little boys head. For example, during a song sequence, (its still bollywood) giant spiders come crawling out of Ishaan’s back pack, this portrays his animosity and fear toward school work. The music is another plus point of the movie, particularly the song ‘Maa’ that illustrates Ishaan’s first days at boarding school where he cannot co-op without his mother.

A motif in the film is drawings of various marine life, because marine life is so diverse it explains the theme which is that every child is special, thus used effectively to express individuality. Taare Zameen Par deserves five stars, because it is the first motion picture that has ever made me cry. One thing is for sure, remember to bring a box of tissues, the flood gates are guaranteed to burst open.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Is Bush, an enemy of Israel?


Is Bush, an enemy of Israel?
With Friends like Bush, Israel don't need enemies.

President Bush got down and dirty and insinuated that Negotiating is tantamount to appeasement and hence Obama is naïve! Wow, who is talking?

Who is the appeaser here? It is Bush's condescending attitude that is the capstone of appeasement. He goes into the Knesset and makes "appeasement statements" to please his gang of Neocons, I am sure not all the Knesset members applauded heartily as his policies have spelled disaster, but I am glad they gave the respect for our President, that Mr. Bush did not deserve.

He and his ilk, have duped the Americans, Israelis and the Palestinians for nearly 60 years with that kind of rhetoric, and their propaganda machinery goes to work full time to make his look like a hero.

The Neocon gang talks peace, but don't mean it. Their plans have failed badly, and they still don't get it. They are no good for Israel, Palestine or America, their actions and words have are the root cause of terror and turmoil in the world. The more they talk about terrorizing the little nations, the more dangerous they make it for Israel, with Friends like Bush, Israel don’t need enemies.

I do hope the average Americans and the Israelis remind these guys on the Election Day that they are out of touch with the reality and that they have brought nothing but misery. They are failures in the international relations.

Why are they afraid to talk? Is it because talking would bring a solution, and bring an end to their eternal itch to be destructive? They still have time to negotiate for peace and become genuine peace makers. As Mother Teresa said once, “If you want to make peace, go talk to your enemies, you don't make peace with friends”.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, politics, Islam, Religion, Terrorism, India and civic issues. His comments, news analysis, opinions and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@aol.com

# # #

Negotiating isn't appeasement
By J. Peter Scoblic May 17, 2008
In a speech to the Israeli parliament Thursday, President Bush took a swipe at Barack Obama for his willingness to negotiate with evil regimes.

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush said. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

But if there is anything that has been discredited by history, it is the argument that every enemy is Hitler, that negotiations constitute appeasement, and that talking will automatically lead to a slaughter of Holocaust-like proportions. It is an argument that conservatives made throughout the Cold War, and, if the charge seemed overblown at the time, it seems positively ludicrous with the clarity of hindsight.

The modern conservative movement was founded in no small part on the idea that presidents Truman and Eisenhower were "appeasing" the Soviets. The logic went something like this: Because communism was evil, the United States should seek to destroy it, not coexist with it; the bipartisan policy of containment, which sought to prevent the further spread of communism, was a moral and strategic folly because it implied long-term coexistence with Moscow. Conservative foreign policy guru James Burnham wrote entire books claiming that containment -- which, after the Cold War, would be credited with defeating the Soviet Union -- constituted "appeasement."

Instead, conservatives agitated for the rollback of communism, and they opposed all negotiations with the Soviets. When Eisenhower welcomed Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev to the United States in 1959, William F. Buckley Jr., the right's leader, complained that the act of "diplomatic sentimentality" signaled the "death rattle of the West."

Conservatives even applied this critique to one of the most dangerous moments in human history: the Cuban missile crisis, during which the United States and the Soviet Union nearly came to nuclear blows over Moscow's deployment of missiles 90 miles off the American coast. When President Kennedy successfully negotiated a peaceful conclusion to the crisis, conservative icon Barry Goldwater protested that he had appeased the Soviets by promising not to invade Cuba if they backed down.

The Soviets withdrew their missiles in what was widely seen as a humiliation to Khrushchev, but Goldwater believed that Kennedy's diplomacy gave "the communists one of their greatest victories in their race for world power that they have enjoyed to date." To Goldwater, it was far preferable to risk nuclear war with the Soviets than to give up our right to roll back Fidel Castro.

Indeed, conservatives considered virtually any attempt to bring the arms race under control as a surrender to communism. When the SALT I agreement capping nuclear arsenals came to Capitol Hill, conservative Rep. John Ashbrook (whose presidential candidacy Buckley supported in 1972) said that "the total history of man indicates we can place very little reliance on treaties or written documents. This is especially true when the agreements are with nations or powers which have aggressive plans. Hitler had plans. Chamberlain's Munich served only to deaden the free world to reality. The communists have plans. SALT will merely cause us to lower our guard, possibly fatally."

A few years later, Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, the elected face of the burgeoning neoconservative movement, charged President Carter with "appeasement in its purest form" for negotiating SALT II, which set equal limits on the number of U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles and bombers.

Ronald Reagan, whose election in 1980 was seen as the culmination of the conservative movement, dubbed SALT II "appeasement" as well, but the trope would come back to bite him. Although Reagan pleased the right enormously during his first three years in office with his military expansion, his call for rollback and his advocacy of missile defenses, conservatives reacted with horror once he began serious negotiations with the Soviets. When he and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, which for the first time eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons, Buckley's National Review dubbed it "suicide." The Conservative Caucus took out a full-page newspaper ad saying "Appeasement is as unwise in 1988 as in 1938." It paired photos of Reagan and Gorbachev with photos of Neville Chamberlain and Hitler.

Containment, negotiation, nuclear stability -- each of these things helped protect the United States and end the Cold War. And yet, at the time, conservatives thought each was synonymous with appeasement.

The Bush administration has been little different, refusing for years to talk to North Korea or Iran about their nuclear programs because it wanted to defeat evil, not talk to it. The result was that Pyongyang tested a nuclear weapon and Iran's uranium program continued unfettered. (By contrast, when the administration negotiated with Libya -- an act that its chief arms controller, John Bolton, had previously derided as, yes, "appeasement" -- it succeeded in eliminating Tripoli's nuclear program.)

Alas, John McCain accused President Clinton of "appeasement" for engaging North Korea, instead calling for "rogue state rollback," and now he dismisses the idea of negotiations with Iran. Given conservatism's historical record, Obama's inclination to negotiate seems only sensible. When will conservatives learn that it is 2008, not 1938?

J. Peter Scoblic, executive editor of the New Republic, is the author of "U.S. vs. Them: How a Half Century of Conservatism Has Undermined America's Security."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Is Tolerance accepted in Islam?

A very thoughtful piece by Manzurul Haque is followed by my commentary;

Manzurul, you made a profound statement “The idea is that as Muslims we should have no difficulty in developing an attitude of tolerance towards some persons or some families, who are not entirely like us. The paramount need is to learn to co-exist.”

Islam is indeed tolerance. 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."

Our Mission at the World Muslim Congress is to work for a world of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. We cannot have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice versa, to sustain it.

Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator.
From your first paragraph, the idea of “Everything about nature is balance and equilibrium” Jumps at me.

55:6 [before Him] prostrate themselves the stars and the trees.
55:7 And the skies has He raised high, and has devised a measure,
55:8 so that you [too, O men,] might never transgress the measure
55:9 weigh, therefore, [your deeds] with equity, and cut not the measure short!
55:10 and the earth has He spread out for all living beings,
55:11 with fruit thereon, and palm trees with sheathed clusters [of dates],
55:12 and grain growing tall on its stalks, and sweet-smelling plants.

Everything in the cosmos, the solar system, the life (sperm to full being), from seed to the mature tree is a system, a precise system.

God caused matter and life. Matter is put on a trajectory, matter is designed to do what is set out to do, … the earth orbiting around the sun, the moon around the earth… the trees are to produce fruit… they are all doing the Sajda, doing what they are designed to do.

Life, on the other hand, especially the human one is not put on a trajectory, instead God gave us a brain to figure out how to survive the anomalies and how not to get washed away and survive and live in equilibrium.

God’s model of equilibrium is the matter… trillions of stars with their own unique space is living in harmony, without conflicts and collisions. Anomalies are built into it, so we can learn to accept our flaws as well.

So he expects us to create that co-existence and balance with the brains he has endowed us, while also giving us the temptations like greed, anger, fear and other elements. He also gave us manuals through different religions (Qur’aan uses a number of 124,000 of them to describe infinity) to figure out and create the harmony and balance. There comes “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."

Jumping to the Hindu way of life, shamefully, the Muslims, the Christians and Jews have an attitude towards Hindu way of honoring the divine. We talk about oneness of God in terms of physical being, where as God is not a being, not a thing and not an entity. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each one of us, and honor every which way people have come to worship the divine, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. That is indeed Islam, peace and submission.

If we were to ask Mr. Spock to analyze the religions, being unbiased and un-brainwashed he probably would sum up as

“The purpose of a religion is to create a balance within an individual and between that individual and what surrounds him or her. Being religious is being a peacemaker who constantly seeks to mitigate the conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. The creator wants his creation to live in peace and harmony and submitting (Islam) to his idea of peace, following (Christianity) his system or surrendering (Hinduism) to him is the purpose of religion, when you do that, everything is yours and you belong to every thing. It is this conflictlessness that religion brings to the humanity. And this is precisely what the oneness of God ought to be.

Each system works for the follower, and no one idea negates the other. I am a Muslim because I am trained that way and I enjoy being one, but would NEVER claim that my way is the only way for every one of the 6 billion of us, that would be an imposition and arrogance, that which God does not give value to, as it creates an imbalance in his creation. Prophet Muhammad shared God's word in Sura Baqra "There is no compulsion in the matters of faith". Indeed there should not be one.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Is Tolerance accepted in Islam?

In Islamic theology, there is a strong directive for the Muslims to look for Signs in the phenomena of nature. Sadly this strand of thought has not struck deep roots in the Muslim consciousness. Life perhaps would have been different if we did look for Signs and draw necessary lessons from those Signs.

The extreme rigidity of our ideological moorings, leading to conflicts with those who do not share views with us, describes a stalemated situation. We may say that we are followers of the Prophet (PBUH) but the times of the Prophet had witnessed the movement forward of Islam at the highest possible speed. To day in the name of Islam one group of Muslims is hitting hard at the other group because that other is an ideological deviant. Surely, this is no way of propagating an ideology.

The art of miniature painting is different from the art of painting a wall. The reason for this difference lies in the size of the canvas. Evidence of this logic is found in the Creation of Allah itself. Fundamental laws of physics which operate at the existential level in apparently immutable ways, undergo remarkable transformation at the sub-atomic level. Can we take a cue from this, to be able to handle our private issues of the miniatures canvas, independently from the public issues of the large canvas, without of course giving up either of them?

Because of the habit of mind, for a long time physicists could not convince themselves that the laws of mechanics do not hold good in the world of subatomic particles. Then finally with some training of mind, they were able to accept the coexistence of both the sets of laws, both being equally fundamental... After all if nature is the perpetrator, who can have the grudge?

When a question is thrown at me in secular India about the position of Islam, which stands for the abrogation of the Hindu way of life, I cannot coax myself to deny this position, because it is true. At the same time, when I probe my mind about my relationship with a Hindu, I honestly do not find myself antagonistic to him. How do I reconcile these contradictory facts of life? My answer is that it can be explained by the canvas theory which may not remove the contradiction, but which may lay down the ground work for co-existence, being intrinsic part of the design of nature.

It is possible that there would be humans who would not subscribe to accepting this line of argument, but as an intelligent follower of Islam, one is perhaps obliged to accept the centrality of co-existence, taking cue from the Signs hidden in nature. The ability to accept the principles of co-existence lies in the understanding of the fundamental laws of nature. I must take pains to explain that our aim should not be to regress into a situation of tearing apart larger canvas of our ideological life merely in order to accommodate our relationship with other humans, and similarly vice verse, because in reality such tearing apart business is not needed, if we can be convinced to accept both these apparently contradictory realities as equally sacrosanct, with which one can live, with a little training of mind. A person with true understanding of the naturalness of the two sets of laws governing the two levels of human existence would not be unduly affected in his personal relationships, because of his ideological differences.
In the above, all that was required to be said has been stated. But for our simple readers, the essence is explained. The idea is that as Muslims we should have no difficulty in developing an attitude of tolerance towards some persons or some families, who are not entirely like us. The paramount need is to learn to co-exist. Everything else will follow. And the good news is that this approach is fully sanctioned by Islam.

Manzurul Haque,

The Real John McCain

Figure it out !



Critiquing Islamism and Maududi

Critiquing Islamism and Maududi

Article by Yogi Sikand follows my commentary;

I am glad to see Muslims unhesitatingly critiquing the revered Muslims scholars of the past, we need to sort out the truth from the bunk and there is plenty of it, that is being unraveled now and Insha Allah, in the next decade we must be able to take out the additives by reverend Maududi, Qutub, Hilali and their likes who sought political gains through religion. Political Islam is a human endeavor to dominate, influence and control others, possibly out of fear of being run over or to cash in on the fear. It is the same story with Zionism, Hindutva and Neocons, agents of fear and war mongering.

Truthfully following the religion comes when we have the freedom to question what is given to us. When we lose that freedom, we fall into the trap of distancing ourselves from the truth. Prophet Muhammad did not assign any one to run the religion for Muslims; it was up to the individual to follow the guidelines enshrined in Qur’aan which is the only thing he left to the followers in his last speech. Respectfully the Shia version assigns an interpreter of religion and it was taken as a hereditary Imamat – it works for them and the other system works for the Sunni traditionalist. Prophet Muhammad completed the religion and no one needed to carry it forward, it was the finality of the message, there was no more delegation of religious authority.

Neither the Prophet assigned the governance of the state to any one that would have led to a monarchial form of governance. The consultative form was adopted for the political governance of the state and it was followed with the first four Leaders. Abdul Aziz Sachedina calls it the roots of democracy.

Religion is a private matter between an individual and God, as no one, not even the Prophet is responsible for one’s good and bad deeds....

Continued at:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Patriotic: Hindu or Muslim?

Who is more Patriotic - Hindu or a Muslim?

Here are 1.1 Billion Indian opinions;

- Patriotism is uplifting the nation, making the lives of her inhabitants better.  It is about Improving the lifestyle from pure potable water to sanitation to providing education, jobs, and experience.

- Patriotism is respecting and honoring every fellow national, in our case fellow Indian, regardless of their color, caste, religion or economic status.

- The old concept of Patriotism is based on killing and getting killed, which is idiotic, we need to be thinking of living and letting others live their lives.  There is a paradigm shift in the making, the guys who want to take their nation on the brink of war are not patriotic, as they put a lot of lives in jeopardy.

- Patriotism disguised in building disgust for others is slavery to one's own negative emotions. They are indeed very binding, makes one's blood pressure go up, one's bile starts flowing with anger and hate. This is not patriotism.

- Most humans love their mother, the source of their creation. Mother is your physical mother; the mother is the land that nourished you and gave the air to breathe and water to drink.

- Most humans honor their mother, it is a personal relationship, yet there are a few Hindus, Muslims, Christian and others who do not treat their mothers well. It is neither their religion nor their stock; it is just the individuals with occasional badness.

- Muslims are as loyal and patriotic as Hindus are. Muslims honor their mothers just as much as Hindus or anyone - Muslims love their motherland only as anyone. Each love is manifested in different expressions. No one has to fall into other's dye.

- The day we stop labeling criminals with religion, would be the day we will find solutions to terrorism of all ranges. Blasting the bus to burning the wives to declining access to someone... Criminals are Criminals because they are... and not because of the religion they wear or the language they speak.

- If I am not at peace with myself, if my thoughts are not peace, if my actions are not peace, and my words are not peace giving, then I cannot expect others to be.

- A peacemaker continually seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. His or Her words and actions do not make things worse but bring some sense and understanding to the situation. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; indeed that is the purpose religion. – Mike Ghouse

Jai Hind

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hindu Muslim Dialogue

An innovative approach to Hindu-Muslim dialogue

This reminds me of my College Professor Ramachandran and my weaver friend Fakhru Bhai; a Hindu and a Muslim respectively and I used to discuss and understand the wisdom of each aspect of religion.

As a Muslim I see great efforts on the part of Muslims to relate with Hindus, it is an effort; however, due to the complex plurality of Hindu belief system, it is much easier for a Hindu to relate with a Muslim than otherwise on a theological basis.

Muslims subtly condition themselves to relate with Hindus based on their reference to God, as one God. Although God is formless in both scriptures, subconsciously most humans give a form and insist on identifying with that One God, as though it is a physical being. Given that, the efforts of Syed Abdullah Tariq must be appreciated.

However, the common Hindus and Muslims, the ones who do not wear religious neon signs are comfortable with each other, just as they are with their own. The One God, No God or Many representations of God is not an issue to them and this is the grounding of an overwhelming majority of Muslims, Hindus or any one. Syed Abdullah Tariq will be more successful in getting the message to the majority and we need to encourage such efforts.

The idea of one God has become more of a political issue, where a few use that as the standard to judge one’s righteousness and mentally declare other practices as wrong or even sinful. We really need to review the intent or wisdom of the idea of one God. – It is a uniting element accepting the uniqueness of each creation, where we acknowledge the source of creation and cause of creation by one energy…. A conflict less system of co-existence for justice and peace.

In the long time interests of peace for every individual, each one of us has to put an effort. Any society that is built and sustained on justice takes out the fear and uncertainty from the minds of people and bring peace, facilitating them to be productive and contributing members of the society.

Due to the terminal health of my wife, I have not been able to write much… but this one caught my attention. (http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2008/05/gods-grace-for-najma-ghouse.html )

We just had our Monthly interfaith (http://carrolltondiary.blogspot.com/2008/04/may-14-carrollton-interfaith-luncheon.html ) meeting at the Mosque in Carrollton, and It was such a joy to see every one respond positively to the inspiration from Jainism. The whole gathering repeated “Michami Dukadam” after me. During Tsunami, we were able to have a Bhajan in the Mosque in Richardson, which is a rare thing. These are positive improvements. God should be invoked with every name and every which way and it is happening.

I commend the efforts of Syed Abdullah Tariq. May more people participate in such efforts.

Mike Ghouse

Hindu-Muslim dialogue

An innovative approach to Hindu-Muslim dialogue
Posted May 16th, 2008 by Mudassir Rizwan

* Articles
* Indian Muslim

55 year-old Syed Abdullah Tariq runs an Islamic group
based in Rampur, a town in western Uttar Pradesh, that
focuses on dialogue with Hindus. An engineer by
training, he was one of the chief disciples of the
late Maulana Shams Naved Usmani, a noted Islamic
scholar who had also a deep knowledge of the Hindu

Tariq collected and published the thoughts and sayings
of Maulana Usmani in the form of several books in Urdu
and Hindi, the most well-known of these being 'Agar
Abhi Na Jagey To', later translated into English under
the title 'Now Or Never'. Maulana Usmani and Tariq
have been one of the pioneers of a particular Islamic
approach to dialogue with Hindus, one that is based on
the commonalities that they perceived in Islam and

In a recent meeting in Rampur, Tariq related his own
story and his association with Maulana Usmani to
Yoginder Sikand, as follows:

Having finished my engineering degree from the Aligarh
Muslim University, I was not sure what I wanted to
take up as a career. In 1974, when I was in my early
twenties, I first met Maulana Shams Naved Usmani in
Rampur. I was really impressed by his teachings, his
enthusiasm for dialogue between Hindus and Muslims. I
decided to stay in his company and to take down
whatever he used to say to his disciples. Later, I had
these published in the form of several books.

Maulana Usmani, or Chacha Jan as I used to fondly call
him, was a very modest man, a Sufi. Originally from
Deoband, he was from the famous Usmani family which
had produced numerous well-known ulema, including
Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani and Maulana Atiq
ur-Rahman Usmani. He did his Master's degree from
Lucknow University, taught History and Geography in a
small semi-government school in Rampur. His lifestyle
was austere. He lived in a small, two-room rented
house. I remember that he constantly had tears in his
eyes. People would come to him to ask him to do dua
for them, which he always did. Even at the height of
summer, he would use a fan only if a guest visited his
house. If he bought a fruit, he would keep a small
part of it for the lady who would come to clean his
house every day. Once, there was a dispute between two
of his relatives over some family-owned property in
Deoband. He told them to stop quarrelling and said
that they could take his share of the property if that
would satisfy him. His wife got a little upset about
this, but he sought to comfort her by composing a
poem, one line of which said, 'Oh, my life companion!
Our house is not in this world!'.

Chacha Jan did not receive a traditional education in
a madrasa, but since he came from a family of noted
ulema he learnt about Islam at home itself as a child.
Later, he learnt Sanskrit on his own. He then began
studying the various Hindu scriptures, and was
surprised to learn, or so he believed, that some of
the original Hindu texts, when shorn of later
accretions, also talk, as the Quran does, of
monotheism, oppose idolatry and polytheism and caste
inequality. This he felt might be a reconfirmation of
the Quran's announcement that God has sent messengers
to every community, and that they have all taught the
same primal and eternal religion or deen of al-Islam,
the surrender to the one God. This means, obviously,
that God must have also sent prophets to India, and it
is quite possible that some figures whom the Hindus
revere might actually have been such prophets,
although later a large number of corruptions and
accretions crept in and people began worshipping these
prophets as deities.

This was Maulana Usmani's basic contention. He argued
that the Sanskrit term sanatan dharm or 'Eternal
Religion', if understood in this manner as submission
to the one God, was the same as the deen al-qaim,
which again means 'Eternal Religion', which is what
Islam is. It was on the basis of this core similarity
that Maulana Sahib wanted Hindus and Muslims to come
together. He also claimed that the Prophet Muhammad
had been prophesied about in some of the Hindu
scriptures. This meant, he argued, that the Hindus, in
accordance with the teachings of these scriptures,
should recognize the Prophet, in addition to other
prophets of God, including those who had been sent to
India. At the same, he wanted Muslims to recognize the
validity of these scriptures insofar as they were of
divine origin and not corrupted by human hands. In
other words, what he was trying to advocate was that
Hindus and Muslims must come closer together based on
precisely what he believed their religious scriptures
said about each other's prophets and on their common
stress on the worship of the one God. This was the
crux of almost all the writings that have been
attributed to him, most of which I have compiled.

After Chacha Jan's sad demise some years ago we have
been trying to carry on with the Maulana's unique work
of inter-faith dialogue. I am often invited to address
inter-faith and dawah meetings in different parts of
India, often even by Hindu organizations. When I am in
Rampur, I and some young colleagues of mine, many of
them students and self-employed youth, meet on Fridays
in the house of Chachi Jan, the wife of the late
Maulana, where we together study a selected portion of
the Quran. After that, I generally deliver a lecture
to the Juma congregation in a mosque nearby, where I
try to discuss issues of contemporary concern, say
violence, women's right, education, the importance of
dawah and inter-faith dialogue and so on. Then, we
divide ourselves into groups and go to nearby
villages, where we meet with Hindus and Muslims and
discuss with them about religion, focusing on the
concept of tauhid, or, as it is called in Hindi and
Sanskrit, ekishwarvad, which, we point out, is common
to both Islam and what we think were the original
Hindu texts. We also talk about the predictions about
the Prophet Muhammad in some Hindu texts that Maulana
Saheb said he had discovered, and also about the
possibility that some key Hindu personages were
actually prophets of God. In this way, we are trying,
in our own very modest way, to bring Hindus and
Muslims to understand their commonalities and thereby
to come closer to each other.

To our Hindu brethren we try and convey that Islam is
not a radically new or alien religion. Rather, it is
the same religion of monotheistic submission that was
taught by all the prophets, starting from the first of
these, Hazrat Adam, whom some have identified as Shiva
in the Hindu tradition. Hence, we tell them, to
recognize the teachings of the Prophet, the core of
which is monotheism, is to actually fulfill the
teachings of their own original scriptures rather than
constituting a departure from or betrayal of them.
Some Hindus will readily recognize other religions
that had their roots in India, such as Sikhism,
Buddhism and Jainism, although their teachings might
differ, on some counts, considerably with Hinduism,
but refuse to recognize religions that are thought to
have their origins outside India. So, we tell them
that true religion is universal. It is not meant for
any one country or race alone, and we say that some
Muslim traditions have it that the first prophet of
God according to the Islam, Hazrat Adam, was actually
sent down to Sri Lanka, which is part of the imagined
Greater India.

We tell them all this, and many people's minds have
been changed as a result, but still, I believe, that
in general people are impressed and influenced not so
much by speeches and sermons as by one's personal
example, and that is something that Chacha Jan used to
exemplify. So many Hindus who met him changed their
views about Islam and Muslims as a result of this
interaction. His approach was one of seeking to find
similarities, to point out our commonalities, rather
than play on and magnify our differences. I think this
is the right approach. I also believe that people who
go around condemning other religions or mocking them
in a bid to stress the claim of the superiority of
their religion actually do their own religion a
disservice because in this way others become alienated
from and hostile to them and their religion rather
than attracted to it. And I believe that Chacha Jan's
approach to dialogue with Hindus was quite in line
with what the Quran says when it advises us to address
others with good words, gently, with love.

In this regard, while talking about the need for
inter-faith dialogue between Muslims and Hindus, I
also want to stress that some ulema as well as radical
Islamists who insist that all non-Muslims are 'enemies
of Islam' and that we must not have any relations with
them or even that we should be stern towards them and
demean them are not just incorrect from the Quranic
point of view but are also insulting Islam. They take
one small verse in the Quran completely out of its
context to insist that Muslims must not befriend
people of other faiths. But this is wholly incorrect.
You must look at the particular context in which this
verse was revealed, who exactly the people referred to
here whom Muslims are told not to befriend were. You
must also examine all the verses in the Quran that
talk about people of other faiths. That would lead one
to the conclusion, which the Quran itself states
somewhere, that God does not forbid Muslims from
befriending those non-Muslims who have not persecuted
them on account of their faith. In other words, the
Quran insists we should relate to such people with
love and good intentions. That sort of relationship is
crucial for any meaningful inter-faith dialogue.

Islam is the religion taught by all the prophets, who
have been sent to all peoples in the world, as the
Quran itself says. It is, therefore, a truly universal
faith, not tied down to one particular ethnic or
cultural group. It is meant for all peoples, and so
when some Muslims erroneously conceive of it as
indelibly linked to a particular culture, dress,
cuisine or language I feel they are really negating
its universality. This naturally makes Islam appear
culturally alien to people who have a different sort
of culture. In turn, that makes our task of
inter-faith dialogue as well as telling others about
Islam particularly difficult.

In this regard I would like to cite a particular
Hadith report that has been attributed to the Prophet,
according to which he is reported as having said that
differences (ikhtilaf) were a blessing for his
community. Some ulema have wrongly interpreted this to
mean that the Prophet was here indicating intra-Muslim
sectarian differences. Not at all! Their petty
bickering on the basis of sectarian differences has
not proved to be a blessing at all, but, rather, a
curse. Perhaps one sort of difference that the Prophet
was referring to here was actually the diversity of
cultures, food styles, dress, languages and so on.
Unfortunately, some of our ulema think in quite the
opposite way. They want to stamp out this rich
cultural diversity, which is a real blessing actually,
and impose a single culture on everyone, at the same
time as they actively seek to promote sectarian
differences by incorrectly interpreting this Hadith

Cultural diversity is a blessing ordained by God, and
without it the world would have been a very drab and
boring place indeed! So, in our inter-faith dialogue
work we must recognize the validity of those things in
others' cultures that do not transgress basic human
and Islamic norms. These things are actually quite
acceptable to Muslims, who can also adopt them without
fear of having diluted their faith thereby. Likewise
in the case of others adopting some aspects of the
culture associated with different Muslim groups.

If religion and culture are considered in this
expansive way, I am quite confident that we can
overcome numerous hurdles in the path to inter-faith
understanding. Further, this would also help is in our
task of telling others about our faith, which is
something that Chacha Jan devoted his life to.

For a detailed account of Maulana Usmani's views and approach to inter-faith dialogue, see my essay titled "An Islamic 'Hinduism'?: The Inter-Faith Dialogue Project of Acharya Maulana Shams Naved 'Usmani", available on

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

God's Grace for Najma Ghouse

God has been good to us.
After 9 months of good medical care and God's grace, Najma, my wife is now completely under God's care and surviving with Allah’s grace, your wishes and prayers.

In the foot steps of Prophet Muhammad, as a Muslim, I draw inspiration from all faiths and share this beautiful precise expressive phrase from Jainism “ Michami Dukadam”, the essence of which is, on this day, let’s forgive and ask for forgiveness and start the next breath of life with a clean slate, free from guilt, free from anxiety, free from hate, malice, anger and all those enslaving emotions. ..... The Qur'aan says that God’s favorite person is the one, who forgives and seeks forgiveness. It is also an idea central to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I want to thank every one who has participated and will participate in this heart and mind purifying process with Najma and I..

Please say "Michami Dukadam", it will complete the transaction.

Click the link to continue: http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2008/05/gods-grace-for-najma-ghouse.html

Friday, May 2, 2008

Godman held for indecency

Times of India report follows my comments;

Swami Prakashanand Saraswati may not have done any wrong doing, it may have been misunderstood from a cultural view point. I recall an Albanian Muslim father who put his little daughter in his lap while watching soccer or some indoor game in Plano, Texas and his hand was caressing on her leg, which was misunderstood by a Caucasian family across and reported it to the Child Protective Agency. Even George Bush governor did not want to hear the appeal. The kids were separated from the parents and were given to Christian foster parents.

My appeal to all parents, Hindu, Muslim, Jains, Sikh, Parsee, Buddhist, or otherwise to please register yourselves to foster parenting, should a situation like that happen, at least their kids can be placed in a similar environment. It is a serious issue in the community and hope it will be undertaken by the India Association. The Muslim Community Center has done quite a lot on this but not enough.

There is a weakness built into each one of us, the weakness to make mistakes and the weakness do the wrong thing. The Catholic Ministry has gone through so much of this. It has nothing to do with one's religion, it has to do with being human. It is human to make mistake and if one has made the mistake, he or she must be punished for messing up the lives of children.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

The Times of India -Breaking news, views. reviews, cricket from across India
Indian godman held for indecency with minors in US
30 Apr 2008, 1833 hrs IST,IANS


NEW YORK: A prominent Indian religious leader with a worldwide following and a huge ashram complex in the US has been arrested on charges of indecency with minor girls emanating from alleged incidents in the 1990s.

Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, 79, founder of Barsana Dham, a 200-acre temple and ashram complex near Austin, Texas, has been accused of groping two underage girls on several occasions between 1993 and 1996.

According to local media reports, detectives began investigating the swami, a votary of the path of devotional love, in August 2007 but indictment on 20 counts of indecency with a child or sexual contact was handed down in April.

Barsana Dham temple vice-president Prabhakari Devi confirmed that their guru was arrested last Thursday at Dulles airport in Washington on his return from Europe where he was receiving medical care.

Denying the charges, the ashram officials said in a statement: "We believe these allegations to be groundless. Shree Swamiji (as he is known) has dedicated his entire life to serving humanity and upholding the tenets of our faith. No one who knows him would ever believe he would do anything such as this."

Barsana Dham bears the name of the place in India, where Radha, Lord Krishna's devotee, is believed to have lived. The swami's followers have been living at the ashram since 1990, practising his philosophy of "divine love consciousness". The ornate temple opened in 1995.

Born in Ayodhya, India, the swami is a disciple of Jagadguru Kripalu Maharaj, a prominent religious leader in India.

He has led the creation of several Hindu centres and temples around the world and has overseen the development of several charitable hospitals in India. A renowned scholar, he has authored many books on Hinduism.

We are one India, aren't we?

In the article below MV Kamath has captured the essence of the state disputes in India.

What are the choices we have?

Justice should be the basis for resolving all the disputes. In the case of water allocation between states or the Goondas chasing workers out of Maharashtra, the GOI cannot impose laws, as it would aggravate the situation further and may elongate the disputes.

A few thoughts, hoping each one of us on the forum can add a few solutions;

3. A commission involving all members to the conflict to come with a solution that all can live with the resolution. Put the bad guys and the good guys to bring the solutions, leaving any one outside the discussion is futile. Every argument and counter argument should be encouraged, but their end goal is a solution. Let the debates be published daily... let the public on either side of the conflict be educated and learn that... what they assume is right for them is not right for the other, and they have to come to terms that what is good for them has got to be good for others for the decision to sustain and last.

1. Any damage to public property must be considered criminal - without labeling them as Tamilians or Kannadigas, Telugu or Marathas, North Indian or Mumbaites, the police or special military unites must round them up as criminal individuals, hope the media can support this, as an issue of law and order.

2. A resolution needs to be passed in each assembly that no Public representative (MLA's, MP's) would use the language to further the dispute and create chaos that shall disqualify him or her from serving in the public office. Again their oath is to uphold law and order, justice to every citizen and not acting out as required must be a disqualified. Let that be published in the media. Let that be handled by a special commission made up of people representing all sides.

Please share your views in the comment section below:

Jai Hind

Mike Ghouse

Subject: One India, one people - http://indiasecular.wordpress.com
We are one India, one people
By M.V. Kamath,Organiser

No state can claim arbitrary rights to the use of water flowing in a river that passes through one or two other states.

Maharashtra is having differences with Andhra Pradesh over the waters of the Godavari. Andhra Pradesh is objecting to the construction of the Babhli Barrage in Maharashtra, claiming that it intrudes into the water shortage area of Pachampad Dam, also known as Shri Ram Sagar project, built by Andhra Pradesh.

What on earth are we doing to this lovely country we call our home, our motherland? Why are we forgetting that we are Indians first, last and always? Sub-nationalism is taking on new colours and is threatening the essential unity of this great nation, for which thousands fought and died since 1857.

Did Bhagat Singh go to the gallows to see the Thackeray clan’s goons drive Bihari labourers out of Maharashtra? Or to see Karnataka Rakshana Vedike activists go on a rampage damaging trucks boarding Tamil Nadu registration? Members of the Vedike have been indulging in outrageous acts such as stopping Tamil films being shown in Bangalore and stoning the office of a cable TV network in a bid to stop it from relaying Tamil programmes.

What kind of rakhshana are these rowdies providing to Karnataka? If they want to preserve the essential character of Kannada, they must tell those activists appearing in Kannada channels not to intersperse English words even in ordinary conversation. In reply to goondaism in Karnataka, their counterparts in Chennai have been rampaging in Chennai, attacking restaurants set up allegedly by Kannadigas: wreaking unheard of damage to property. And one understands that these were not goons but educated lawyers who presumably are conversant about law and order.
What sort of madness is it that is overtaking this country? Bihari labour is being driven out from the north east. They are not wanted in Jammu and Kashmir either.

In the first week of February, 60,000 migrant labourers left Nasik and 40,000 from Pune. Many industrial units have been apparently closed down in Maharashtra because north Indian workers have been driven out. Several steel units, not to speak of construction activities are indefinitely closed down.

One would have imagined that these developments would have been taken notice of by our ‘leaders’. When there was strong anti-Hindi agitation in Chennai in the sixties, Indira Gandhi had the courage and foresight to rush to Tamil Nadu to cool down tempers.

In contrast, Sonia Gandhi has gone to Rajasthan, mainly to run down the BJP. The south is burning, but Sonia Gandhi can only think of ridiculing L.K.Adavani and Jaswant Singh over a minor controversy. It is to this sad state of national degradation that this country has been reduced.

What is it that has set Tamil Nadu against Karnataka? There is a dispute between the two states over the setting up of a project at a place called Hogenakkal, situated on their mutual border, allegedly for the supply of drinking water to Tamil Nadu. The estimated cost of the Project has been placed at Rs 1,340 crore, no small sum. This project is part of the outstanding and unresolved larger issue of equitable sharing of the waters of the river Kaveri (Cauvery) between the two riparian states. The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal had given its verdict last year, but unhappy with it, both the states had appealed to the Supreme Court where the petitions are reportedly pending. Wisdom dictated that a mutually agreed solution should be worked out between the two concerned states; instead, the matter has been turned into high level dissonance with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister making harsh statements unbecoming of anyone, let alone a Chief Minister.

Karunanidhi has since shown signs of wisdom and announced categorically that “no room should be given to violence” and Karnataka’s S.M.Krishan has reciprocally called him “magnanimous”, both welcome statements, if somewhat belated, even if Karunanidhi keeps talking about Tamil “Self respect”.

Nobody in his right mind would want to wound any state’s self-respect. That should go without saving.

In this regard, two points need to be made: One is that India is not a confederation of independent States. It is one and indivisible.

No state can claim arbitrary rights to the use of water flowing in a river that passes through one or two other states. Maharashtra is having differences with Andhra Pradesh over the waters of the Godavari. Andhra Pradesh is objecting to the construction of the Babhli Barrage in Maharashtra, claiming that it intrudes into the water shortage area of Pachampad Dam, also known as Shri Ram Sagar project, built by Andhra Pradesh.
Seventy one (71) kilometres of the 126 km long water storage area of the Shri Ram Sagar Project is in Andhra Pradesh, while 55 kms is in Maharastra. The issue has been raised that because of this, the Babhli Barrage intrudes into the water storage area of the Shri Ram Sagar Project.

Such disputes need to be amicably settled, not viciously fought over by stoning buses and damaging public property or getting film stars to take sides. When it comes to natural resources, they are not the exclusive property of Punjabis or Bengalis, Gujarathis or Rajasthanis, Kannadigas or Tamilians. Only the other day (March 27), Gujarat’s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi symbolically sent the Narmada waters surging through a specially constructed main canal, to quench the thirst of desert-lined Rajasthan, after an epic 458 km long journey through ten districts of Gujarat.

“We are doing no favour to our neighbours, just repaying a centuries-old debt” said Modi, emotionally, while addressing lakhs of people who had assembled at Banaskantha. That is real patriotism.

Those who have been indulging in violence both in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are insulting Bharat Mata. They need to be pulled up sharply. There are no Kannada or Tamil waters. Or Maharashtrian and Andhra Pradesh waters. All that we have are a Kaveri and a Godavari, just as we have a Narmada or a Ganga. What is true of rivers, is also true of human beings.

We are Indians first; language should not separate us, or geography.

It is only when there is free movement of people across one part of the country to another, that we establish our true Indian-ness or Bharatiyata.

Mumbai City, for instance, was not built to its pre-eminence solely by the Marathi manoos. It was the sum-total of efforts made by Parsi entrepreneurs, Gujarati businessmen, Konkan mill workers, Marathi intellectuals, north Indian film stage and Karnatak hoteliers, to mention only a few, to whom credit is due. The Civil Service is all-Indian. Only talent counts.

The Army is one; so are the Navy and Air Force. They are not divided linguistically. It is time our petty politicians remembered that.

Strong objection should be taken about Karnatak and Tamil film stars behaving in a most craven manner. Children behave more responsibly. It is this kind of in-fighting between one kingdom and another in the 18th century that finally enabled the British to conquer India. All inter-state disputes should be settled amicably, not by mud-slinging and in-fighting, but through mutual understanding and accommodation.

Lord Clive must be laughing in his grave at the antics of our so-called ‘leaders’. They have only brought shame and disgrace to this country we love. What our national ‘leaders’ are doing. Sitting pretty in Delhi, while south India is burning makes one wonder what, sort of leaders we have.

India's polity is rotten, writes The Economist (March 22). No truer words were said.