Thursday, December 24, 2009

A tribute to Jesus

A tribute to Jesus on this Christmas;
What does it mean to be religious?
Mike Ghouse

This column is dedicated to Rev. Petra Weldes of the Center for Spiritual Living in Dallas. Some of my conversation with her inspired me to write this tribute to Jesus and what it means to be religious.

When Jesus calls on us to follow him, Krishna suggests us to surrender to him, Allah asks us to submit to his will, and every spiritual master shares similar wisdom in one form or the other, what could they mean?

By the way Jesus did not call on Christians exclusively to follow him, he called on the whole humanity to follow him, neither Allah in Qur’aan addresses Muslims, he addresses the whole universe from the very first verse.

The bottom line: Every effort was made to pull one up from one’s selfish interests that are a source of conflicts with other’s selfish interests, to the larger interests of the society which paves the way for peace and long term security of every one. The idea applies to the nations as well, what is good for one has got to be good for others and vice-versa for a sustainable balance in the society. No nation or we as individuals can have advantages at the cost of others; such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace.

Whether you are a painter, artist, poet, tailor, sculptor, mechanic, teacher, chef, engineer, janitor, doctor or a builder, you want your output to be good, pleasant, durable, sustainable and co-exist in harmony with its surroundings. God is no different, like a mother, he, she or it wants his creation to co-exist in harmony with what surrounds; life and environment.

Through the great teachers, the creator has communicated that wisdom to everyone of the seven billion of us; for example in one version, Krishna says whenever the balance in a society is lost (adharma), some wise man or woman will emerge from among them and restore that elusive balance to the society (bring righteousness - dharma). In the Qur’aan, God says, he sent a messenger to every tribe, nation and people to create harmony and peace among themselves.

You can see that act played out by Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Bahaullah, Nanak, Buddha, Mahavir, Confucius, Zarathushtra, Gandhi and the shamans in every native, and earth based traditions. Even among Atheists there will be one who will work on creating peace within and with others. They all have done what a representative of Goodness (or God) ought to do; cultivate a culture of harmony and co-existence, isn’t that religious? No one of God's creation is left out of his grace and mercy, if we can learn to respect the (God) given wisdom of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Indeed, you do have a peace maker amongst you; on your board, at your school, city council, business, church or a social club. That one person brings the relief, just as one can bring the grief. Let's do our individual share of good, that's all it take to bring peace on earth.

It is from this perspective; I share the thought that, to be religious is to be a mitigater of conflicts and a nurturer of goodwill. Each one of us has to ask ourselves every moment of the day, is my act, my thought and my words mitigate or aggravate a conflict? Do I see the wisdom in the teachings of the great masters? Am I religious? (One does not have to believe in God to be religious, an Atheist can be religious in the sense, he or she wants to create harmony by mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill).

In the name of the creator, whatever name we choose to call or in the interests of co-existence, and in the name of our great teacher Jesus, let’s commit to be the mitigaters of conflict and nurturers of goodwill, on his on his birthday to honor him.

Let’s believe in his message of loving even our enemies is good for us as individuals and the society. Together, let us all see the beauty and wisdom of his teachings without any reserve. Let’s us all receive his message of goodness today and become religious.

Merry Christmas, May God tempt you to be religious and to be like Jesus.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His three websites and 22 Blogs are listed on

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An appeal to Indonesian Muslims

An appeal to Indonesian Muslims
Mike Ghouse

Friday, December 18, 2009 will be noted as a sad day in the history of Indonesia. On this day, a group of people on their way out from attending an Islamic New Year parade attacked the Santo Albertus Church under construction in Bekasi.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident, but the church was damaged severely, just a week before Christmas.

We the Muslims from around the world, appeal to the Indonesian Muslims, who follow the word of God and example of the Prophet to help those few who are momentarily lost, and bring them back on the path of justice and fairness that the Prophet taught us.

The Quraan asserts in 49:13, “The noblest of you in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware.” Had God willed, he would have made all of us the same.

We look up to you, the Indonesian Muslims for following Islam as taught by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). You are proud owners of the Panchasila document which reaffirms the freedom of all faiths. Indeed, it is this model of freedom that builds trust, respect and goodwill among all of God’s creations.

Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) life was an example for us to follow, he did not return violence with violence, instead he prayed for those who pelted stones and bloodied him, asking God to give them goodwill.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) respected the Christians, Jews and others to the point of inviting them to dialogue; he was one of the first humans to initiate the interfaith dialogue. Historians note that Byzantine Christians led by their bishop, had come to discuss a number of issues with the Prophet, and when the time for their prayer came up, he offered them to "conduct their service in his mosque”. He taught us that respecting other faiths is part of our conduct. Indeed, he earned the trust of his community by being truthful, honest and trustworthy; he was called Amin by the people around him.

The Prophet set another example of mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill when the Aswad stone fell off the wall of Kaaba. Each tribe was laying claims of their right to set the fallen Aswad Stone back in the wall, Muhammad (pbuh) was approached, he could have done it himself, but being the ultimate peace maker he was, he got the parties together, mitigated their conflict and had them all share in lifting the stone back into its place, thus nurturing goodwill.

We appeal to you to earn the respect of the society and be good and just to one and all and re-build the Church for the Christians that was desecrated. Please set an example of the Indonesian Muslim conduct for others to follow. To be a Muslim is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill and strive to build societies of Justice and peace for every human being.

Update: 12/31/09 - The appeal is published in Jakarta Post

Mike Ghouse is a Muslim from Dallas, Texas who admires the Indonesian Model of Islam. He is a speaker, thinker and a writer and regularly offers pluralistic perspectives to the media. He can be reached at and the websites and the blogs are listed at


Monday, December 21, 2009

Mike Ghouse on National Public Radio

Mike Ghouse on National Public Radio
Monday, December 21, 2009

The National Public Radio invited Rev. Angie Buchanan, a trustee of the Parliament of the World's religions and Mike Ghouse as an individual to be on the air between 3-4 PM to talk about the Parliament event. It was a good interview and it will be available at on Tuesday to download and listen to. Rev. Buchanan gave a wonderful analogy about religions being Islands and the need for the people in each Island to visit and build bridges.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Copenhagen is about Climate Justice

Climate Justice assures every one in the long haul that one can continue living and breathing regardless of being rich or poor. Protecting the environment is the right thing to do; indeed it is a sacred duty of every human. As an individual or a nation we cannot shut ourselves in a bubble; either we suffer the damage together or save the environment for all. None of us can live in silos.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Mike Ghouse to Speak at Parliament of Worlds Religions

DALLAS – (November 28, 2009) – Mike Ghouse, board member of The Memnosyne Foundation, has been invited to speak at the Council for a Parliament of the World Religions in Melbourne, Australia. Co-Founder and President of The Memnosyne Foundation, Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk, made the announcement recently.

Continued -


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eid-al-Adha - What is a sacrifice

WARNING: If you do not believe in Ijtihad, please do not read the following. If you are binary Muslim who sees everything in terms of Halaal/Haraam, the following notes are not for you.

Dr. Lalani thinks aloud, but makes a valid point about Sacrifice.

We should be open to his idea, and as Muslims we should debate it and see the merits and alternatives for the same. It does not mean giving up eating the meat, it simply means finding the alternatives for the present day massive animal slaughter on the day of Eid.

The idea of sacrifice he has explained - of giving up things that are dear to one is meaningful. I request the Muslims who are free to think to propose a full idea on how to handle the symbolic sacrifice Muslims make on the day of Eid-al-Adha.

Two articles below talk about the the 300,000 animals being sacrficed by Hindus in Nepal and on Thanksgiving Day, we probably would slaughter more than 20 Million turkeys, that is one turkey for every 15 Americans.

That is our food..... think from a survival point of view...

Look at this way, the wheat we grind to flour and eat kills the future of wheaties from that seed of wheat we kill. The veggies we eat have life that we shorten. If we do not kill the wheat, it keeps growing and reseeding....

Every veggie has life too. We are part of it and animals are part of it. If no one kills the animals and veggies, and no animal eats other animal... there will be a huge problem.

Religions were wise to go along with the system of nature... we are each others sustenance.
Sounds bad, but what are the choices? Why show prejudice towards Veggies and not towards animals? No matter what you eat, you are killing the continuance of the life of that item.

Mike Ghouse
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I am a Muslim, and not just a MINO (Muslim in Name Only) and I admit I could do better in practice of my religion.

There is one Islamic ritual with which I have a great deal of trouble and that is Kurbani. I have never slaughtered an animal myself but I have seen a goat being dragged to the spot of sacrifice on Eid-alAdha and I have seen how desperately the goat struggles and resists. It is quite obvious that the animal knows what is in store for it (it is uncanny). And I have seen its throat being cut and its being exsanguinated and a painful death superveing slowly and inexorably.

I hold Prophets Ibrahim and Mohammad (praise be on them both) in highest reverence and I am not a vegetarian (although I wish I could have been). I also do not question God's commandment to Ibrahim to show his devotion to Allah by going through with the sacrifice of his only son at that time, (this must have been before the birth of Isaac, PBUH).

However, could it be that God's Commandment to sacrifice was for to him to give whatever it was that was most dear or his very valuable possession. In those days, livestock was a measure of wealth and meat was not pletiful so that protein deficiency must have been endemic, especially among the poor (the majority). Alll those facts pointed to a living animal as logical possesiion fit for sacrifice.

I performed Umra in December of 1993 and read an 'official' piece of Saudi government literature provided to the pilgrims (including Hajj). It clearly stated that money donation can emphatically substitute for animal sacrifice and that meat was allowed to Muslims but not mandated by our great faith.

I am a physician (now retired) and I have no doubt that dairy products (esp cheese) and eggs (unfertilized) can definitely furnish all the protein a human needs and in fact even those may not be indispensable (lentils and legumes have plenty of the so called first class proteins).
Jews used to practice Qurbani following the example of Abrham/Ibrahim (PBUH) until the destruction in 570 b.c. of the First Temple and - perhaps - until the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD but they seem to have completely given up the practice since the diaspora. And still, we include them - and Christians - among the believers. Europeans used to sacrifice animals to Jupiter and Apollo and Minerva etc. but quit that practice when Christianity replaced idol-worshipping, polytheistic Homeric religion ( 'Hellenism'). Could we at least heed the kernel of their argument against performing anuimal sacrifice without becoming vegetarians?


Inayat Lalani

'World's biggest animal sacrifice' in Nepal

By Claire Cozens
Agence France-Presse

KATHMANDU, Nepal—Thousands of Hindu devotees have flocked to a village in Nepal ahead of the planned sacrifice of more than 300,000 animals in a ceremony condemned by animal rights activists, including French actress Brigitte Bardot.

Priests are preparing for the slaughter of more than 15,000 buffaloes and 300,000 birds, goats, and sheep during the event, which starts Tuesday and is thought to be the biggest ritual sacrifice anywhere in the world.

Every five years, the village of Bariyapur, near Nepal's southern border with India, hosts this religious festival dedicated to Gadhimai, the Hindu goddess of power.

"Thousands of people from Nepal and India have already begun arriving and preparations for the festival are in full swing," Mangal Chaudhary Tharu, the main priest at the Gadhimai temple, told AFP.

He said visitor numbers were expected to be higher this year because it is the first such ceremony since the end of Nepal's conflict in 2006 and he vowed to go ahead with the sacrifice despite the protests.

Tharu, the fourth generation of his family to serve as a priest at the temple, said he expected more than a million people to attend, over half from India, where many states have banned animal slaughter for religious purposes.

Nepal's government has refused to put a stop to what it says is a centuries-old religious tradition, and has pledged 4.5 million rupees (60,000 dollars) in funding.

"People have deep faith in the goddess and they believe that sacrificing animals will bring them good luck and prosperity for their families," said Tharu.

"I don't think the mood will be spoiled by the animal rights campaigners. They have the right to raise their concerns and we have the right to continue with our age-old tradition."
Armed police have been deployed to keep the peace and authorities have banned alcohol during the festival, which begins with the ritual sacrifice of two wild rats, a rooster, a pig, a goat, and a lamb.

The meat is distributed to the devotees and to local people, while contractors bid for the animal hides—making the slaughter a lucrative venture for the local community.

But the ceremony has been strongly opposed by animal rights campaigners, who are demanding an end to what they say is senseless cruelty.

The cause is supported by the well-known Indian animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi and by Bardot, a veteran campaigner who this month wrote to Nepal's president urging him to put a stop to the festival.

"Thousands of terrified buffaloes will have their heads cut off by drunken devotees," she wrote.

"Honorable president, I have dedicated my life to protect animals and the best gift I could receive for this lifelong struggle would be the announcement of the stopping of ritual sacrifice."

Pramada Shah, director of pressure group Animal Nepal, says the campaign has won strong support both in Nepal and abroad, although she accepts it faces an uphill struggle in this deeply conservative, majority-Hindu nation.

"In a country like Nepal it is very difficult to raise these issues," she told AFP.
"The idea of animal rights is very new here and people are so used to sacrifices, even well-educated people are resistant to change. There is a lot of work to be done here, but slowly, progress is being made."

She says attitudes toward ritual slaughter are beginning to change in Nepal, a view shared by cultural expert Chunda Bajracharya.

"Belief in these ancient rituals is deep rooted in our society," said Bajracharya, professor of cultural studies at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan University.

"But there is evidence that animal sacrifices are becoming less popular, especially in urban areas, where people are instead choosing to 'sacrifice' eggs or coconuts.
"Mindsets are gradually changing."

Shared by Hasni Essa

Op-Ed Contributor
Animal, Vegetable, Miserable
Karen Barbour

Times Topics: VeganismLATELY more people have begun to express an interest in where the meat they eat comes from and how it was raised. Were the animals humanely treated? Did they have a good quality of life before the death that turned them into someone’s dinner?

Some of these questions, which reach a fever pitch in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, pertain to the ways in which animals are treated. (Did your turkey get to live outdoors?) Others focus on the question of how eating the animals in question will affect the consumer’s health and well-being. (Was it given hormones and antibiotics?)

None of these questions, however, make any consideration of whether it is wrong to kill animals for human consumption. And even when people ask this question, they almost always find a variety of resourceful answers that purport to justify the killing and consumption of animals in the name of human welfare. Strict ethical vegans, of which I am one, are customarily excoriated for equating our society’s treatment of animals with mass murder. Can anyone seriously consider animal suffering even remotely comparable to human suffering? Those who answer with a resounding no typically argue in one of two ways.

Some suggest that human beings but not animals are made in God’s image and hence stand in much closer proximity to the divine than any non-human animal; according to this line of thought, animals were made expressly for the sake of humans and may be used without scruple to satisfy their needs and desires. There is ample support in the Bible and in the writings of Christian thinkers like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas for this pointedly anthropocentric way of devaluing animals.

Others argue that the human capacity for abstract thought makes us capable of suffering that both qualitatively and quantitatively exceeds the suffering of any non-human animal. Philosophers like Jeremy Bentham, who is famous for having based moral status not on linguistic or rational capacities but rather on the capacity to suffer, argue that because animals are incapable of abstract thought, they are imprisoned in an eternal present, have no sense of the extended future and hence cannot be said to have an interest in continued existence.

The most penetrating and iconoclastic response to this sort of reasoning came from the writer Isaac Bashevis Singer in his story “The Letter Writer,” in which he called the slaughter of animals the “eternal Treblinka.”

The story depicts an encounter between a man and a mouse. The man, Herman Gombiner, contemplates his place in the cosmic scheme of things and concludes that there is an essential connection between his own existence as “a child of God” and the “holy creature” scuffling about on the floor in front of him.

Surely, he reflects, the mouse has some capacity for thought; Gombiner even thinks that the mouse has the capacity to share love and gratitude with him. Not merely a means for the satisfaction of human desires, nor a mere nuisance to be exterminated, this tiny creature possesses the same dignity that any conscious being possesses. In the face of that inherent dignity, Gombiner concludes, the human practice of delivering animals to the table in the form of food is abhorrent and inexcusable.

Many of the people who denounce the ways in which we treat animals in the course of raising them for human consumption never stop to think about this profound contradiction. Instead, they make impassioned calls for more “humanely” raised meat. Many people soothe their consciences by purchasing only free-range fowl and eggs, blissfully ignorant that “free range” has very little if any practical significance. Chickens may be labeled free-range even if they’ve never been outside or seen a speck of daylight in their entire lives. And that Thanksgiving turkey? Even if it is raised “free range,” it still lives a life of pain and confinement that ends with the butcher’s knife.

How can intelligent people who purport to be deeply concerned with animal welfare and respectful of life turn a blind eye to such practices? And how can people continue to eat meat when they become aware that nearly 53 billion land animals are slaughtered every year for human consumption? The simple answer is that most people just don’t care about the lives or fortunes of animals. If they did care, they would learn as much as possible about the ways in which our society systematically abuses animals, and they would make what is at once a very simple and a very difficult choice: to forswear the consumption of animal products of all kinds.

The easy part of this consists in seeing clearly what ethics requires and then just plain doing it. The difficult part: You just haven’t lived until you’ve tried to function as a strict vegan in a meat-crazed society.

What were once the most straightforward activities become a constant ordeal. You might think that it’s as simple as just removing meat, eggs and dairy products from your diet, but it goes a lot deeper than that.

To be a really strict vegan is to strive to avoid all animal products, and this includes materials like leather, silk and wool, as well as a panoply of cosmetics and medications. The more you dig, the more you learn about products you would never stop to think might contain or involve animal products in their production — like wine and beer (isinglass, a kind of gelatin derived from fish bladders, is often used to “fine,” or purify, these beverages), refined sugar (bone char is sometimes used to bleach it) or Band-Aids (animal products in the adhesive). Just last week I was told that those little comfort strips on most razor blades contain animal fat.

To go down this road is to stare headlong into an abyss that, to paraphrase Nietzsche, will ultimately stare back at you.

The challenges faced by a vegan don’t end with the nuts and bolts of material existence. You face quite a few social difficulties as well, perhaps the chief one being how one should feel about spending time with people who are not vegans.

Is it O.K. to eat dinner with people who are eating meat? What do you say when a dining companion says, “I’m really a vegetarian — I don’t eat red meat at home.” (I’ve heard it lots of times, always without any prompting from me.) What do you do when someone starts to grill you (so to speak) about your vegan ethics during dinner? (Wise vegans always defer until food isn’t around.) Or when someone starts to lodge accusations to the effect that you consider yourself morally superior to others, or that it is ridiculous to worry so much about animals when there is so much human suffering in the world? (Smile politely and ask them to pass the seitan.)

Let me be candid: By and large, meat-eaters are a self-righteous bunch. The number of vegans I know personally is ... five. And I have been a vegan for almost 15 years, having been a vegetarian for almost 15 before that.

Five. I have lost more friends than this over arguments about animal ethics. One lapidary conclusion to be drawn here is that people take deadly seriously the prerogative to use animals as sources of satisfaction. Not only for food, but as beasts of burden, as raw materials and as sources of captive entertainment — which is the way animals are used in zoos, circuses and the like.

These uses of animals are so institutionalized, so normalized, in our society that it is difficult to find the critical distance needed to see them as the horrors that they are: so many forms of subjection, servitude and — in the case of killing animals for human consumption and other purposes — outright murder.

People who are ethical vegans believe that differences in intelligence between human and non-human animals have no moral significance whatsoever. The fact that my cat can’t appreciate Schubert’s late symphonies and can’t perform syllogistic logic does not mean that I am entitled to use him as an organic toy, as if I were somehow not only morally superior to him but virtually entitled to treat him as a commodity with minuscule market value.

We have been trained by a history of thinking of which we are scarcely aware to view non-human animals as resources we are entitled to employ in whatever ways we see fit in order to satisfy our needs and desires. Yes, there are animal welfare laws. But these laws have been formulated by, and are enforced by, people who proceed from the proposition that animals are fundamentally inferior to human beings. At best, these laws make living conditions for animals marginally better than they would be otherwise — right up to the point when we send them to the slaughterhouse.

Think about that when you’re picking out your free-range turkey, which has absolutely nothing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. All it ever had was a short and miserable life, thanks to us intelligent, compassionate humans.

Gary Steiner, a professor of philosophy at Bucknell University, is the author of “Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status and Kinship.”


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Muslim countries seek blasphemy ban

A good debate is warranted on the issue. I am inclined to support the freedom of speech, hoping civility would ultimately prevail. Rules should be made for the general good of the population and not to address the exceptions, as the majority of the people in every group are moderate, law abiding, easy to get along and practice live and let live way of life. However, we cannot be blind to many a laws that have been the catalyst in bringing about a positive change.

Continued at:

Mike Ghouse

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Allahu Akbar by Matthew Moes

I wrote an article about Allahu Akbar's significance, which I will publish after it is published in the news paper. Mathew commented on my face book and shared this wonderful poem. Allahu Akbar is about humility and not arrogance or incitement.

By Matthew Moes
YZK Institute for Islamic Scholarship and Research

Allahu Akbar - God is Great
Words I say
When I turn from the world to pray
Words I say
When I bow down
Words I say
When I put my face to the ground
Words I say
When I lift my head from the floor

Words that signal a return
Words that prioritize
Words of humility
Words of attribution

Tremendous Words

Words not to be abused by madmen
Words not to be mocked by media men
Words not to be perverted by terrorism
Words not to be distorted by charlatans

Words of reverence
Words of faith
Words of exalting joy

Words sung out in the call to prayer
Words to celebrate breaking the month-long fast
Words to commemorate the sacrifice of Abraham
Words to consecrate the life that becomes our food
Words for the funeral prayer, the final salute

Words of salvation
Words of adoration
Words of elation
Words of liberation

Allahu Akbar - God is Great!
Allahu Akbar - God is Greater!
Allahu Akbar - God is Greatest!

Beautiful Words
Words, just words, and yet
Powerful Words!
Words only fit for Him!
# # #

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fort Hood Tragedy

Fort Hood Tragedy

Every Muslim is saddened by this incident.
No one has a right to take another persons life.
Every religion condemns and discourages killing.

Alas, we the humanity understand the individual crises, and work with individuals going through a trauma of their own lives and help them into become productive Citizens.

We have to remember that it is the individuals who do good things and it is the individuals who do bad things, we have to hold the individuals responsible for their acts not their parents, kids, sibling or others.

May God bless the souls of the victims and, May God give patience to their family members.

I am pleased to invite you to a conversation on the subject on Saturday 9:00 AM at La Madeliene on Mokingbird at Central Expressway in Dallas.

Mike Ghouse

The American Muslim Website has compiled several
statements from several groups.

Senseless shootings violate Islamic faith
By Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
On Faith at
The Huffington Post

November 6, 2009

I was so deeply saddened by the events at Fort Hood, Texas, yesterday. My prayers and sympathy are with the families of those brave American soldiers who were killed and wounded in this senseless act.

What this unfortunate Army major did was against the laws of Islam, even though news accounts said he was an observant Muslim. It is too early to understand his motivations and mental stability. He obviously was violating his faith when he undertook this act. Killing is as much a sin in Islam as it is in Christianity, Judaism and all the major religions. Taking the law into one's own hands is against Islamic teachings.

We do not know how our soldiers will react under the stresses of war. It is something that we as religious leaders should take seriously as we minister to our troops.

I am concerned that this incident will cause some Americans to react against the Islamic faith and Muslim Americans. Our fellow Americans should understand that every major American Muslim organization has condemned it in no uncertain terms. Thousands of American Muslims serve in the U.S. armed forces, and they are essential to the U.S. goal of bringing peace, stability and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. They are supported by millions of American Muslims.

This is a time for all Americans to draw together in our grief and sympathy for the victims of this senseless act, and to support the care and well-being of our troops with the hope that they will soon be able to return home.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, an independent, non-partisan and multi-national project that seeks to use religion to improve Muslim-West relations. ( He is the author of "What's Right with Islam is What's Right With America."

By Muqtedar Khan
Director of Islamic Studies, University of Delaware

The American Muslim community is experiencing shock, disbelief and apprehension as it watches the unfolding details of the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist and practicing Muslim, born in Virginia of Jordanian parents, turned against his fellow citizens and military colleagues and murdered 13 and wounded 30.

What happened at Fort Hood follows a nightmare script that has been one of the biggest fears of the American Muslim community since the appalling events of September 11, 2001. One crazy Muslim, acting on his own, causing significant mayhem and murder and inviting anger and backlash against millions of peace loving and hardworking Americans who are Muslims. National and local Muslim organizations immediately issued strong condemnation of the event and called for calm.

It is important to understand that Major Hasan is an isolated, alienated and sad individual who was clearly not well adjusted to his life. In a community that values family life, he was single at 39 and still looking desperately for a wife, according to his former Imam. He was in an army that was at war with his co-religionists and he had difficulty dealing with that. He was frequently taunted and harassed for being a Muslim by his own colleagues. After years in the military and after years of caring for soldiers as a doctor, he did not feel as if he belonged and perhaps that was the key to why he could turn on his own.

This tragic episode presents serious dilemmas and challenges for both Muslim community organizations as well as for law enforcement and counter-terrorism agencies. Muslim organizations do not know how to explain this and the law enforcement agencies will be puzzling over how to understand it.

This was an unpredictable and isolated episode, impossible to anticipate and guard against. Hasan is an American-born, highly educated, long-term military man who simply snapped with devastating consequences. How do we anticipate this and prevent it? The Fort Hood shooting reminds me of the Columbine shooting; shocking and unexpected. On scrutiny after the fact one discovers warning signs but not enough to trigger action before it happened.

Since the election of President Obama, Islamophobic rhetoric was on the decline as people in key administrative positions abstained from using "Islamic" as a prefix when talking about issues related with the war on terror. But this episode will once again provide fodder for talk shows and websites, which exploit such isolated events to ratchet up Islamophobia.

Muslims across the country have been working hard to build bridges with mainstream America, to establish interfaith relations and carve out a place for the community on main street America. Hasan not only fired at unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood, but he also attacked the very foundations of all these bridges across the country. His actions will definitely weaken if not completely undermine the efforts of thousands of Americans to build bridges of peace and understanding.
According to some estimates there are over 10,000 Muslims in the U.S. military who serve loyally, with sincere and complete commitment. Many Muslims in the U.S. military have died fighting for America. General Colin Powell once spoke so eloquently about Cpl. Kareem Khan, a Purple Heart, who had died fighting for America. Let us hope that Major Hasan's dastardly actions do not hurt the careers of the thousands of Kareem Khans proudly serving in U.S. military.

There is nothing that American Muslims can do to prevent such events. But we must now allow them to weaken our resolve to combat extremism, prejudice and ignorance in our society. We must redouble our efforts to continue to share the message of peace, tolerance and pluralism that is fundamental to Islamic believes to our congregations and our communities.

The tragedy at Fort Hood is a major test for Muslims and Americans. They must face the challenge with determination. Muslims must not allow it to force them to recede from the public sphere and from their struggle for understanding, for civil rights and against religious profiling and Islamophobia. Americans must not allow this isolated event to fall back on stereotypes about Islam and resuscitate the prejudices that all of us have worked so hard to curb.

Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and a Fellow of the Institute for Social policy and Understanding.


WASHINGTON, DC (MASNET) Nov. 6, 2009 – MAS Freedom (MASF), on behalf of and as the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), joins the chorus of American Muslim voices nationwide in condemnation of the tragic attack perpetrated against U.S. military personnel at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, where soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving 13 persons dead and 30 wounded on November 5, 2009.

"As an organization and as Muslim Americans, we stand in condemnation of Thursday's assault in the strongest terms possible," echoed MAS Freedom Executive Director, Mahdi Bray Thursday evening at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

"Let us be cautious, however, in drawing conclusions based on the ethnicity of the perpetrator of this tragic incident. A full investigation, is, of course, underway; however, as in any case, the perpetuation of negativity in such instances often unwittingly serves as an equally unnecessary exacerbation of the atmosphere of hate, violence and Islamophia under which the Muslim community already exists," stated MAS Freedom Executive Director Mahdi Bray.

Bray added, "Indeed this is a national tragedy and our American family is in mourning. Like any family in a time of crisis and tragedy, we will not turn on each other, but rather, toward each other as a source of strength and comfort."

Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old Muslim, Virginia-born Army major and psychiatrist, set to be deployed to Iraq, is reported to be responsible for the worst mass killing on a U.S. military base; the second shooting incident in recent history at the base this year.

Another shooting incident occurred at Fort Hood on September 8, 2008. Specialist Jody Michael Wirawan, 22, of Eagle River, Alabama, who was scheduled to be discharged, fatally shot 1st Lieutenant Robert Bartlett Fletcher, 24, of Jensen Beach, Florida. When police arrived, Wirawan turned his gun on himself and died on the scene.

An emerging profile indicates that Major Hasan, who, prior to being transferred to Fort Hood six-years ago, served and did his psychiatric internship at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center, may, himself, have suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Major Hasan, whose family members have stated endured name-calling and harassment about his Muslim faith for years, is further described as a 'mostly very quiet', devoutly religious person, often seen attending prayers at a local mosque in uniform, while stationed in Washington. Retired Army Col. Terry Lee, is reported to have stated that Major Hasan never spoke ill of the military or his country, however, he had expressed hopes that President Barack Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq and that Major Hasan had been proactively vocal in his opposition to the wars, in addition to having sought legal counsel in working to detach himself from the military.

MAS Freedom continues to urge and support its ongoing call for an end to the wars and deployments that have led to numerous severe mental health problems among U.S. soldiers, including mental depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, violence against spouses and family members, in addition to suicide; illnesses that reportedly affect some 20 percent of the troops returning from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

According to Pentagon figures, Fort Hood has the highest suicide rate over any Army base in the country, with 75 soldiers taking their own lives since 2003; an additional 32 Fort Hood soldiers have reportedly attempted, but thankfully failed, to take their own lives.

The San Antonio News-Express reported last August that the number of suicides at Fort Hood 'has been 26 per 100,000 people from 2006 to 2008, far above the civilian rate of 14.06 per 100,000'. The report further states that in addition to Fort Hood, Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Fort Bragg, North Carolina collectively logged 125 suicides in the same period, for a total of 183 since 2003.

MAS Freedom North Carolina Director Khalilah Sabra stated, "Most soldiers are aware of combat stress reactions from their training and from Army education campaigns. Reportedly, over 70 percent of soldiers have complained of war-related stress and have sought help for serious problems. These emotional health issues are intensified by long and multiple deployments in places that witness death and the violence of constant combat."

MAS Freedom further calls on our nation's Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, to step-up efforts to insure more effective mental healthcare for soldiers experiencing chronic stress and mental instability as the ongoing campaign for health care reform continues.
Fort Hood commander Lieutenant General Bob Cone, has confirmed that contrary to earlier reports, Major Hasan was not fatally wounded in the incident and is currently in custody and in stable condition.

Also previously reported as being fatally wounded, was a civilian police woman and first responder on the scene, who has received surgical treatment for her injuries and is in stable condition.

A ceremony to honor the dead will take place at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where the bodies have been taken for autopsies.

"As American Muslims we join our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured," stated Bray.

Inquiries or requests for information can be made by contacting MAS Freedom at (202) 552-7414, (703) 642-6165 or 1-888-627-8471 or sending an email to: info @

"Patriotic Arab Americans Making A Difference"


At a time of deep sorrow in the midst of this horrific tragedy, our thoughts are first and foremost with the Fort Hood shooting victims and their families. One can only imagine the unspeakable pain and loss they are and will be dealing with in the weeks, months and years to come.

It is unfortunate that whatever demons possessed Nidal Hasan, that he chose to deal with his problems in this way.

In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, it is more important than ever that we not make the same scapegoating and broad stroke mistakes that were evident in the aftermath of previous tragedies.

The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military urges the media, government officials and all of our fellow Americans to recognize that the actions of Hasan are those of a deranged gunman, and are in no way representative of the wider Arab American or American Muslim community.

In fact, thousands of Arab Americans and American Muslims serve honorably everyday in all four branches of the U.S. military and in the National Guard. Additionally, many of us have willingly stepped forward to fulfill our duty with our fellow soldiers in both Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the globe for the defense of our national security, including most of the member of APAAM. Indeed, many of us are today currently deployed in both countries, honorably serving each and every day.

The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military (APAAM) was created shortly after September 11th, 2001, in an effort to organize current and former Arab- Americans in the military to highlight the service and contributions dating back to the Revolutionary War. There are approximately 3,500 Arab- Americans serving in our Armed Forces.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Muslim's Journey of Islam

How many of you can relate with Imran Khan's story?

Every word of this essay resonates with me except this single sentence, "Since
all morality has it roots in religion," it may be because he did not journey
into Atheism. Morality is a product of the society, of the need to co-exist and
not exclusively a construct of religion. Morality existed prior to the dawn of
religion and continues to exist where there in no religion.

Imran Khan's interview below is fascinating. It is almost an identical journey
of my life. My turn around came about a decade ago, when every one was
attacking Islam.

I came across a verse from Bhagvad Gita that said "finding the truth is one's
own responsibility" and then I pondered over the scenario of the Day of
Judgment; you are on your own, it is how you treat others that matters, what is
your role in creating a balance or peace around you? No one is going to be with
you except your own deeds and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told his own daughter
Fatima that she has to earn God's grace the old fashion way, earn it. He told
her she is not going to get a free pass.

Those two were the most powerful statements in my life. To which I add that no
matter what your Rabbi, Imam, Pundit, Pastor or clergy teaches you, it is you
who will bear the responsibility of living with yourselves in your solitude.

Karen Armstrong's book Muhammad is one of the most influential books in my
journey of Islam. It was her writings that made me understand Muhammad the man
that I can relate with, connect with and admire him and mentor him. Imran wrote
"Islam is a universal religion and that is why our Prophet (peace be upon him)
was called a Mercy for all mankind.

Mike Ghouse

Imran Khan: Why The East Sticks To Religion

My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older
generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British.
The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan. Despite
gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public
schoolboys rather than Pakistanis.

I read Shakespeare, which was fine, but no Allama Iqbal – the national poet of
Pakistan. The class on Islamic studies was not taken seriously, and when I left
school I was considered among the elite of the country because I could speak
English and wore Western clothes.

Despite periodically shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ in school functions, I
considered my own culture backward and religion outdated. Among our group if any
one talked about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a

Because of the power of the Western media, our heroes were Western movie stars
or pop stars. When I went to Oxford already burdened with this hang up, things
didn’t get any easier. At Oxford, not just Islam, but all religions were
considered anachronism.

Science had replaced religion and if something couldn’t be logically proved it
did not exist. All supernatural stuff was confined to the movies. Philosophers
like Darwin, who with his half-baked theory of evolution had supposedly
disproved the creation of men and hence religion, were read and revered.

Moreover, European history reflected its awful experience with religion. The
horrors committed by the Christian clergy during the Inquisition era had left a
powerful impact on the Western mind. To understand why the West is so keen on
secularism, one should go to places like Cordoba in Spain and see the torture
apparatus used during the Spanish Inquisition. Also the persecution of
scientists as heretics by the clergy had convinced the Europeans that all
religions are regressive.

However, the biggest factor that drove people like me away from religion was the
selective Islam practiced by most of its preachers. In short, there was a huge
difference between what they practiced and what they preached. Also, rather than
explaining the philosophy behind the religion, there was an overemphasis on

I feel that humans are different to animals. While, the latter can be drilled,
humans need to be intellectually convinced. That is why the Qur’an constantly
appeals to reason. The worst, of course, was the exploitation of Islam for
political gains by various individuals or groups. Hence, it was a miracle I did
not become an atheist. The only reason why I did not was the powerful religious
influence my mother wielded on me since my childhood. It was not so much out of
conviction but love for her that I stayed a Muslim.

However, my Islam was selective. I accepted only parts of the religion that
suited me. Prayers were restricted to Eid days and occasionally on Fridays, when
my father insisted on taking me to the mosque with him. All in all I was
smoothly moving to becoming a Pukka Brown Sahib. After all I had the right
credentials in terms of school, university and, above all, acceptability in the
English aristocracy, something that our brown sahibs would give their lives for.
So what led me to do a ‘lota’ on the Brown Sahib culture and instead become
a ‘desi’?

Well it did not just happen overnight.

Firstly, the inferiority complex that my generation had inherited gradually went
as I developed into a world-class athlete. Secondly, I was in the unique
position of living between two cultures. I began to see the advantages and the
disadvantages of both societies.

In Western societies, institutions were strong while they were collapsing in our
country. However, there was an area where we were and still are superior, and
that is our family life. I began to realize that this was the Western
society’s biggest loss. In trying to free itself from the oppression of the
clergy, they had removed both God and religion from their lives.

While science, no matter how much it progresses, can answer a lot of questions
– two questions it will never be able to answer: One, what is the purpose of
our existence and two, what happens to us when we die? It is this vacuum that I
felt created the materialistic and the hedonistic culture. If this is the only
life then one must make hay while the sun shines – and in order to do so one
needs money. Such a culture is bound to cause psychological problems in a human
being, as there was going to be an imbalance between the body and the soul.
Consequently, in the US, which has shown the greatest materialistic progress
while giving its citizens numerous rights, almost 60 percent of the population
consult psychiatrists. Yet, amazingly in modern psychology, there is no study of
the human soul. Sweden and Switzerland, who provide the most welfare to their
citizens, also have the highest suicide rates. Hence, man is not necessarily
content with material
well being and needs something more. Since all morality has it roots in
religion, once religion was removed, immorality has progressively grown since
the 70s. Its direct impact has been on family life. In the UK, the divorce rate
is 60 percent, while it is estimated that there are over 35 percent single
mothers. The crime rate is rising in almost all Western societies, but the most
disturbing fact is the alarming increase in racism. While science always tries
to prove the inequality of man (recent survey showing the American Black to be
genetically less intelligent than whites) it is only religion that preaches the
equality of man. Between 1991 and 1997, it was estimated that total immigration
into Europe was around 520,000, and there were racially motivated attacks all
over, especially in Britain, France and Germany. In Pakistan during the Afghan
war, we had over four million refugees, and despite the people being so much
poorer, there was no racial

There was a sequence of events in the 80s that moved me toward God as the
Qur’an says: “There are signs for people of understanding.” One of them
was cricket. As I was a student of the game, the more I understood the game, the
more I began to realize that what I considered to be chance was, in fact, the
will of Allah. A pattern which became clearer with time. But it was not until
Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” that my understanding of Islam began to

People like me who were living in the Western world bore the brunt of anti-Islam
prejudice that followed the Muslim reaction to the book. We were left with two
choices: fight or flight. Since I felt strongly that the attacks on Islam were
unfair, I decided to fight. It was then I realized that I was not equipped to do
so as my knowledge of Islam was inadequate. Hence I started my research and for
me a period of my greatest enlightenment. I read scholars like Ali Shariati,
Muhammad Asad, Iqbal, Gai Eaton, plus of course, a study of Qur’an. I will try
to explain as concisely as is possible, what “discovering the truth” meant
for me. When the believers are addressed in the Qur’an, it always says,
“Those who believe and do good deeds.” In other words, a Muslim has dual
function, one toward God and the other toward fellow human beings.

The greatest impact of believing in God for me, meant that I lost all fear of
human beings. The Qur’an liberates man from man when it says that life and
death and respect and humiliation are God’s jurisdiction, so we do not have to
bow before other human beings.

Moreover, since this is a transitory world where we prepare for the eternal one,
I broke out of the self-imposed prisons, such as growing old (such a curse in
the Western world, as a result of which, plastic surgeons are having a field
day), materialism, ego, what people say and so on. It is important to note that
one does not eliminate earthly desires. But instead of being controlled by them,
one controls them. By following the second part of believing in Islam, I have
become a better human being. Rather than being self-centered and living for the
self, I feel that because the Almighty gave so much to me, in turn I must use
that blessing to help the less privileged. This I did by following the
fundamentals of Islam rather than becoming a Kalashnikov-wielding fanatic.

I have become a tolerant and a giving human being who feels compassion for the
underprivileged. Instead of attributing success to myself, I know it is because
of God’s will, hence I learned humility instead of arrogance.

Also, instead of the snobbish Brown Sahib attitude toward our masses, I believe
in egalitarianism and strongly feel against the injustice done to the weak in
our society. According to the Qur’an, “Oppression is worse than killing.”
In fact only now do I understand the true meaning of Islam, if you submit to the
will of Allah, you have inner peace. Through my faith, I have discovered
strength within me that I never knew existed and that has released my potential
in life. I feel that in Pakistan we have selective Islam. Just believing in God
and going through the rituals is not enough. One also has to be a good human
being. I feel there are certain Western countries with far more Islamic traits
than us in Pakistan, especially in the way they protect the rights of their
citizens, or for that matter their justice system. In fact some of the finest
individuals I know live there.

What I dislike about them is their double standards in the way they protect the
rights of their citizens but consider citizens of other countries as being
somehow inferior to them as human being, e.g. dumping toxic waste in the Third
World, advertising cigarettes that are not allowed in the West and selling drugs
that are banned in the West. One of the problems facing Pakistan is the
polarization of two reactionary groups. On the one side is the Westernized group
that looks upon Islam through Western eyes and has inadequate knowledge about
the subject. It reacts strongly to anyone trying to impose Islam in society and
wants only a selective part of the religion. On the other extreme is the group
that reacts to this Westernized elite and in trying to become a defender of the
faith, takes up such intolerant and self-righteous attitudes that are repugnant
to the spirit of Islam. What needs to be done is to somehow start a dialogue
between the two extreme.
In order for this to happen, the group on whom the greatest proportion of our
educational resources are spent in this country must study Islam properly.

Whether they become practicing Muslims or believe in God is entirely a personal
choice. As the Qur’an tells us there is “no compulsion in religion.”
However, they must arm themselves with knowledge as a weapon to fight extremism.
Just by turning up their noses at extremism the problem is not going to be

The Qur’an calls Muslims “the middle nation”, not of extremes. The Holy
Prophet (peace be upon him) was told to simply give the message and not worry
whether people converted or not, therefore, there is no question in Islam of
forcing your opinions on anyone else.

Moreover, we are told to respect other religions, their places of worship and
their prophets. It should be noted that no Muslim missionaries or armies ever
went to Malaysia or Indonesia. The people converted to Islam due to the high
principles and impeccable character of the Muslim traders. At the moment, the
worst advertisements for Islam are the countries with their selective Islam,
especially where religion is used to deprive people of their rights. In fact, a
society that obeys fundamentals of Islam has to be a liberal one.

If Pakistan’s Westernized class starts to study Islam, not only will it be
able to help society fight sectarianism and extremism, but it will also make
them realize what a progressive religion Islam is. They will also be able to
help the Western world by articulating Islamic concepts. Recently, Prince
Charles accepted that the Western world can learn from Islam. But how can this
happen if the group that is in the best position to project Islam gets its
attitudes from the West and considers Islam backward? Islam is a universal
religion and that is why our Prophet (peace be upon him) was called a Mercy for
all mankind.

(Mr. Imran Khan is the Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf PTI. His article
first appeared in the Arabnews)

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Saudi-ization of Pakistan

It appears that the Saudiization is catching-on, discreetly replacing a long tradition of co-existence with exclusivism.

Why is the Saudi Product selling? Is it Money? Are the desperate souls getting some deviant satisfaction? They are ripe candidates and are vulnerable to suggestions; The Wahhabi mind set becomes a easy sale for the merchant mullahs, they buy it and latch onto to achieve that sense of manliness, a sense of I can do it.

We need to do the research to find out what germinates it.

It is convenient to blame Wahhabi ideology and naive to wash off our hands that the problem is solved. That is irresponsible thing to do unless we find the roots of the problem and bring about a lasting solution.

Please note that I will not defend the Wahhabis. I am more opposed to the exclusive ideology of Wahhabis than an average person. However, we need to learn to bark at the right tree. Place the responsibility where it belongs, so we can find real sustainable solutions.

We need to study, if there is a correlation between un-employment rate, injustice and how men behave with women, the easy target to amass a wrong sense of self worth is by preying on the weak. Isn't that an animal instinct, rather than a Wahhabi inspired attitude?

Mike Ghouse

A stern, unyielding version of Islam is replacing the kinder,
gentler Islam of the Sufis in Pakistan

By Pervez Hoodbhoy
Newsline, Pakistan

The common belief in Pakistan is that Islamic radicalism is a problem only in FATA, and that madrassas are the only institutions serving as jihad factories. This is a serious isconception. Extremism is breeding at a ferocious rate in public and private schools within Pakistan’s towns and cities. Left unchallenged, this education will produce a generation incapable of co-existing with anyone except strictly their own kind. The mindset it creates may eventually lead to Pakistan’s demise as a nation state.

For 20 years or more, a few of us have been desperately sending out SOS messages, warning of terrible times to come. In fact, I am surprised at how rapidly these dire predictions have come true.

A full-scale war is being fought in FATA, Swat and other “wild” areas of Pakistan, resulting in thousands of deaths. It is only a matter of time before this fighting shifts to Peshawar and Islamabad (which has already been a witness to the Lal Masjid episode) and engulfs Lahore and Karachi as well. The suicide bomber and the masked abductor have crippled Pakistan’s urban life and shattered its national economy.

Soldiers, policemen, factory and hospital workers, mourners at funerals and ordinary people praying in mosques have all been reduced to globs of flesh and fragments of bones. But, perhaps paradoxically, in spite of the fact that the dead bodies and shattered lives are almost all Muslim ones, few Pakistanis speak out against these atrocities.

Nor do they approve of the army operation against the cruel perpetrators of these acts because they believe that they are Islamic warriors fighting for Islam and against American occupation. Political leaders like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan have no words of solace for those who have suffered at the hands of Islamic extremists. Their tears are reserved exclusively for the victims of Predator drones, even if they are those who committed grave crimes against their own people. Terrorism, by definition, is an act only the Americans can commit.

What explains Pakistan’s collective masochism?

To understand this, one needs to study the drastic social and cultural transformations that have rendered this country so completely different from what it was in earlier times.

For three decades, deep tectonic forces have been silently tearing Pakistan away from the Indian subcontinent and driving it towards the Arabian peninsula. This continental drift is not physical but cultural, driven by a belief that Pakistan must exchange its South Asian identity for an Arab-Muslim one.

Grain by grain, the desert sands of Saudi Arabia are replacing the rich soil that had nurtured a magnificent Muslim culture in India for a thousand years. This culture produced Mughul architecture, the Taj Mahal, the poetry of Asadullah Khan Ghalib, and much more. Now a stern, unyielding version of Islam (Wahhabism) is replacing the kinder, gentler Islam of the Sufis and saints who had walked on this land for hundreds of years.

This change is by design.

Twenty-five years ago, the Pakistani state used Islam as an instrument of state policy. Prayers in government departments were deemed compulsory, floggings were carried out publicly, punishments were meted out to those who did not fast in Ramadan, selection for academic posts in universities required that the candidate demonstrate a knowledge of Islamic teachings and jihad was declared essential for every Muslim.

Today, government intervention is no longer needed because of a spontaneous groundswell of Islamic zeal. The notion of an Islamic state – still in an amorphous and diffused form – is more popular now than ever before as people look desperately for miracles to rescue a failing state.

Villages have changed drastically; this transformation has been driven, in part, by Pakistani workers returning from Arab countries. Many village mosques are now giant madrassas that propagate hard-line Salafi and Deobandi beliefs through oversized loudspeakers.

They are bitterly opposed to Barelvis, Shias and other sects, who they do not regard as Muslims. The Punjabis, who were far more liberal towards women than the Pukhtuns, are now beginning to take a line resembling that of the Taliban. Hanafi law has begun to prevail over tradition and civil law, as is evident from the recent decisions of the Lahore High Court.

In Pakistan’s lower-middle and middle classes lurks a grim and humourless Saudi-inspired revivalist movement that frowns on any and every expression of joy and pleasure. Lacking any positive connection to culture and knowledge, it seeks to eliminate “corruption” by regulating cultural life and seizing control of the education system.

“Classical music is on its last legs in Pakistan; the sarangi and vichitraveena are completely dead,” laments Mohammad Shehzad, a music aficionado. Indeed, teaching music in public universities is violently opposed by students of the Islami Jamaat-e-Talaba at Punjab University. So the university has been forced to hold its music classes elsewhere.

Religious fundamentalists consider music haram or un-Islamic. Kathak dancing, once popular with the Muslim elite of India, has few teachers left. Pakistan produces no feature films of any consequence.

Nevertheless, the Pakistani elite, disconnected from the rest of the population, live their lives in comfort through their vicarious proximity to the West. Alcoholism is a chronic problem of the super rich of Lahore – a curious irony for this deeply religious country.

Islamisation of the state and the polity was supposed to have been in the interest of the ruling class – a classic strategy for preserving it from the wrath of the working class. But the amazing success of the state is turning out to be its own undoing.

Today, it is under attack from religious militants, and rival Islamic groups battle each other with heavy weapons. Ironically, the same army – whose men were recruited under the banner of jihad, and which saw itself as the fighting arm of Islam – today stands accused of betrayal and is almost daily targeted by Islamist suicide bombers.

Pakistan’s self-inflicted suffering comes from an education system that, like Saudi Arabia’s system, provides an ideological foundation for violence and future jihadists. It demands that Islam be understood as a complete code of life, and creates in the mind of a school-going child a sense of siege and embattlement by stressing that Islam is under threat everywhere.

On the previous page, the reader can view the government-approved curriculum. This is the basic road map for transmitting values and knowledge to the young. By an act of parliament passed in 1976, all government and private schools (except for O-level schools) are required to follow this curriculum. It was prepared by the curriculum wing of the federal ministry of education, government of Pakistan. It sounds like a blueprint for a religious fascist state.

Alongside are scanned pictures from an illustrated primer for the Urdu alphabet. The masthead states that it has been prepared by Iqra Publishers, Rawalpindi, along “Islamic lines.” Although not an officially approved textbook, it is being used currently by some regular schools, as well as madrassas associated with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), an Islamic political party that had allied itself with General Musharraf. These picture scans have been taken from a child’s book, hence the scribbles.

The world of the Pakistani schoolchild remained largely unchanged, even after September 11, 2001, the event that led to Pakistan’s timely desertion of the Taliban and the slackening of the Kashmir jihad. Indeed, for all his hypocritical talk of “enlightened moderation,” General Musharraf’s educational curriculum was far from enlightening.

It was a slightly toned down version of the curriculum that existed under Nawaz Sharif which, in turn, was identical to that under Benazir Bhutto who had inherited it from General Zia-ul-Haq. Fearful of taking on the powerful religious forces, every incumbent government has refused to take a position on the curriculum and thus quietly allowed young minds to be moulded by fanatics. What may happen a generation later has always been a secondary issue for a government challenged on so many fronts.

The promotion of militarism in Pakistan’s so-called “secular” public schools, colleges and universities had a profound effect upon young minds. Militant jihad became part of the culture on college and university campuses. Armed groups flourished, they invited students for jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan, set up offices throughout the country, collected funds at Friday prayers and declared a war which knew no borders. Pre-9/11, my university was ablaze with posters inviting students to participate in the Kashmir jihad. Post-2001, this ceased to be done openly.

Still, the primary vehicle for Saudi-ising Pakistan’s education has been the madrassa. In earlier times, these had turned out the occasional Islamic scholar, using a curriculum that essentially dates back to the 11th century, with only minor subsequent revisions. But their principal function had been to produce imams and muezzins for mosques, and those who eked out an existence as ‘maulvi sahibs’ teaching children to read the Quran.

The Afghan jihad changed everything. During the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, madrassas provided the US-Saudi-Pakistani alliance the cannon fodder they needed to fight a holy war. The Americans and Saudis, helped by a more-than-willing General Zia, funded new madrassas across the length and breadth of Pakistan. A detailed picture of the current situation is not available.

But according to the national education census, which the ministry of education released in 2006, Punjab has 5,459 madrassas followed by the NWFP with 2,843; Sindh has 1,935; the Federally Administrated Northern Areas (FANA), 1,193; Balochistan, 769; Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), 586; the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), 135; and the Islamabad capital territory, 77. The ministry estimates that 1.5 million students are acquiring religious education in the 13,000 madrassas.

These figures appear to be way off the mark. Commonly quoted figures range between 18,000 and 22,000 madrassas. The number of students could be correspondingly larger. The free boarding and lodging plus provision of books to the students, is a key part of their appeal. Additionally, parents across the country desire that their children be “disciplined” and given a thorough Islamic education. The madrassas serve this purpose, too, exceedingly well.

Madrassas have deeply impacted the urban environment. Until a few years ago, Islamabad was a quiet, orderly, modern city different from the rest of Pakistan. Also, it had largely been the abode of Pakistan’s elite and foreign diplomats.

But the rapid transformation of its demography brought with it hundreds of mosques with multi-barrelled audio-cannons mounted on minarets, as well as scores of madrassas illegally constructed in what used to be public parks and green areas. Now, tens of thousands of their students, sporting little prayer caps, dutifully chant the Quran all day. In the evenings they swarm the city, making women minus the hijab increasingly nervous.

Total segregation of the sexes is a central goal of the Islamists, the consequences of which have been catastrophic. For example, on April 9, 2006, 21 women and eight children were crushed to death and scores injured in a stampede inside a three-storey madrassa in Karachi, where a large number of women were attending a weekly congregation. Male rescuers, who arrived in ambulances, were prevented from moving the injured women to hospitals.

One cannot dismiss this incident as being just one of a kind. In fact, soon after the October 2005 earthquake, as I walked through the destroyed city of Balakot, a student of the Frontier Medical College described to me how he and his male colleagues were stopped by religious elders from digging out injured girl students from under the rubble of their school building.

This action was similar to that of Saudi Arabia’s ubiquitous religious ‘mutaween’ (police) who, in March 2002, had stopped school girls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing their abayas – a long robe worn in Saudi Arabia. In a rare departure from the norm, Saudi newspapers had blamed and criticised the mutaween for letting 15 girls burn to death.

The Saudi-isation of a once-vibrant Pakistani culture continues at a relentless pace. The drive to segregate is now also being found among educated women. Vigorous proselytisers carrying this message, such as Mrs Farhat Hashmi, have been catapulted to the heights of fame and fortune.

Their success is evident. Two decades back, the fully veiled student was a rarity on Pakistani university and college campuses. The abaya was an unknown word in Urdu. Today, some shops across the country specialise in abayas. At colleges and universities across Pakistan, the female student is seeking the anonymity of the burqa. And in some parts of the country she seems to outnumber her sisters who still “dare” to show their faces.

I have observed the veil profoundly affect habits and attitudes. Many of my veiled female students have largely become silent note-takers, are increasingly timid and seem less inclined to ask questions or take part in discussions. They lack the confidence of a young university student.

While social conservatism does not necessarily lead to violent extremism, it does shorten the distance. The socially conservative are more easily convinced that Muslims are being demonised by the rest of the world. The real problem, they say, is the plight of the Palestinians, the decadent and discriminatory West, the Jews, the Christians, the Hindus, the Kashmir issue, the Bush doctrine – the list runs on. They vehemently deny that those committing terrorist acts are Muslims, and if presented with incontrovertible evidence, say it is a mere reaction to oppression.

The immediate future does not appear hopeful: increasing numbers of mullahs are creating cults around themselves and seizing control of the minds of worshippers. In the tribal areas, a string of new Islamist leaders have suddenly emerged: Baitullah Mehsud, Maulana Fazlullah and Mangal Bagh. Poverty, deprivation, lack of justice and extreme differences of wealth provide the perfect environment for these demagogues to recruit people to their cause. Their gruesome acts of terror are still being perceived by large numbers of Pakistanis merely as a war against imperialist America. This could not be further from the truth.

In the long term, we will have to see how the larger political battle works out between those Pakistanis who want an Islamic theocratic state and those who want a modern Islamic republic. It may yet be possible to roll back those Islamist laws and institutions that have corroded Pakistani society for over 30 years and to defeat its hate-driven holy warriors.

There is no chance of instant success; perhaps things may have to get worse before they get better. But, in the long term, I am convinced that the forces of irrationality will cancel themselves out because they act at random whereas reason pulls only in one direction. History leads us to believe that reason will triumph over unreason, and the evolution of the humans into a higher and better species will continue. Using ways that we cannot currently anticipate, they will somehow overcome their primal impulses of territoriality, tribalism, religiosity and nationalism. But, for now, this must be just a matter of faith.
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Towards a kind and just society

Towards a kind and just society

God wills for humanity to strive for a balance; social, spiritual, biological, physical, moral and environmental. When this elusive equilibrium is achieved, where no one is afraid of the other, oppression becomes a story, exploitation fades away, and goodwill becomes the norm of the society. Religion has achieved its goal; indeed, God is all about peace and equilibrium – Mike Ghouse


Extremists obsession with female bodies

The article by the title "Why are Islamic extremists obsessed with female bodies?" follows my commentary. *** note about the Bra is listed below.

It is a serious issue that needs attention. First of all, let’s acknowledge that the practice of dehumanizing a woman is wrong, and that it is spreading unabated.

Secondly, let’s accept the responsibility that each one of us has to do our share of work for creating civil societies.

Justice and Fairness is the hall mark of civil societies, where justice and a sense of fairness is the norm, there is a correlation in people’s confidence the sense of security that brings peace and prosperity. We cannot have peace when people around us don’t.

Since these attitudes are seriously spreading, we need to do the research to find what germinates it. The abuse of women continues in the most civilized societies as well as the traditional sub-societies where the culture of men is to be the providers and women to be the nurturers.

We need to study, if there is a correlation between un-employment rate, inability to bring fairness and justice in their enclaves and how men behave with women, the easy target to amass a wrong sense of self worth is by preying on the weak. Isn’t that an animal instinct, rather than a Wahhabi inspired attitude?

Don’t the politicians in India use the unemployed to go burn the buses and trains for Cauvery water, for Tamil/ Hindi conflicts and for a host of other conflicts.

It is convenient to blame Wahhabi ideology and wash off our hands that the problem is solved. That is irresponsible thing to do unless we find the roots of the problem and bring about a lasting solution.

Please note that I will not defend the Wahhabis. As a Pluralist, I am more opposed to the exclusive ideology of Wahhabis than an average person. However, we need to learn to bark at the right tree. Place the responsibility where it belongs, so we can find real sustainable solutions.

Given that, I would reccomend that it be re-titled as "The extremiss obsession with female bodies."

*** I found the picture of bra appropriate on this site to make a point – just recently Yvonne Ridley was in Dallas sharing her story about her capture by the Talibans… she made a big point about the Talibans, when in Jail, she washed her underclothing and hung them on the clothes line to dry, the whole ministry was involved in telling her to remove and the reason they gave was that the bra would incite the men, it would tempt them and she had to remove the object of temptations from the clothes line that is in their sight outside the compound. She made a comment about their obsession about this rather than doing the foreign policy work. The notes about her visit at:

Mike Ghouse

Friends, Following article reinforces concerns articulated by Pervez Hoodbhoy in "The Saudiisation of Pakistan and the death of its rich culture" (Thank you Farida), from a rapid and malignant spread of Wahhabi ideology in Islam.

I must warn the reader that the article has some explicit language and expressions. If you have no tolerance for that, please don't read any further. Otherwise, read and reflect meaningfully.
# # #

Why are Islamic extremists obsessed with female bodies?

Fanatics view women as objects of pleasure, temptation and sin and use
strictness toward them as an easy form of religious struggle"

- Egyptian author Alaa Al Aswany

The Shabaab movement in Somalia controls large parts of the south and centre of
the country, and because officials in this movement embrace the Wahhabi
ideology, they have imposed their views on Somalis by force and have issued
strict decrees banning films, plays, dancing at weddings, football matches and
all forms of music, even the ring tones on mobile phones.

Some days ago, these Islamic extremists carried out a strange operation: They
arrested a Somali woman and whipped her in public because she was wearing a bra.
They announced clearly that wearing bras was un-Islamic because it is a form of
fraud and deception.

We may well ask what wearing bras has to do with religion, why they would
consider them to be a form of fraud and deception and how they managed to arrest
the woman wearing the bra when all Somali women go around with their bodies
completely covered. Did they appoint a special female officer to inspect the
breasts of women passing by in the street?

One Somali woman called Halima told the Reuters news agency: "Al-Shabaab forced
us to wear their type of veil and now they order us to shake our breasts....
They first banned the former veil and introduced a hard fabric which stands
stiffly on women's chests. They are now saying that breasts should be firm
naturally, or just flat."


In fact, this excessive interest in covering up women's bodies is not confined
to the extremists in Somalia.

In Sudan, the police examine women's clothing with extreme vigilance and arrest
any woman who is wearing trousers. They force her to make a public apology for
what she has done and then they whip her in public as an example to other women.

Some weeks ago, Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein insisted on wearing trousers
and refused to make the public apology. When she refused to submit to flogging,
she was referred to a real trial and the farce reached its climax when the judge
summoned three witnesses and asked them if they had been able to detect the
shape of the accused's underwear when she was wearing the trousers.

When one of the witnesses hesitated in answering, the judge asked him directly:
"Did you see Lubna's stomach when she was wearing the trousers?"

The witness gravely replied: "To some extent."

Ms. Hussein said she was wearing a modest pair of trousers and that the
scandalous pair she was accused of wearing would not suit her at all because she
is plump and would need to lose 20 kilograms in order to put them on.

The judge convicted her anyway and fined her 500 pounds or a month in prison.

In Egypt, too, extremists continue to take an excessive interest in women's
bodies and in trying to cover them up entirely. They advocate not only that
women wear the niqab, but also that they wear gloves, believing they will ensure
that no passions are aroused when men and women shake hands.

We really do face a phenomenon that deserves consideration: Why are Islamic
extremists so obsessed with women's bodies?


Some ideas might help us answer this question.

First, the extremist view of women is that they are only bodies and instruments
for either legitimate pleasure or temptation, as well as factories for producing
children. This view strips women of their human nature.

Accusing the Somali woman of fraud and deception because she was wearing a bra
is the same charge of commercial fraud that the law holds against a merchant who
conceals the defects of his goods and makes false claims about their qualities
in order to sell them at a higher price. The idea here is that a woman who
accentuates her breasts by using a bra gives a false impression of the goods
(her body), which is seen as fraud and deception of the buyer (the man) who
might buy (marry) her for her ample breasts and later discover that they were
ample because of the bra and not by nature.

It would be fair to remember that treating women's bodies as commodities is not
something found only in extremist ideologies, but often happens in Western
societies, too. The use of women's naked bodies to market commercial products in
the West is merely another application of the idea that women are commodities.
Anyone who visits the red-light district in Amsterdam can see for himself how
wretched prostitutes, completely naked, are lined up behind glass windows so
that passersby can inspect their charms before agreeing on the price. Isn't that
a modern-day slave market, where women's bodies are on sale to anyone willing to

Second, the extremists believe women to be the source of temptation and the
prime cause of sin. This view, which is prevalent in all primitive societies, is
unfair and inhuman, because men and women commit sin together and the
responsibility is shared and equal. If a beautiful woman arouses and tempts men,
then a handsome man also arouses and tempts women. But the extremist ideology is
biased in favour of the man and hostile to the woman, and considers that she
alone is primarily responsible for all sins.

Third, being strict about covering up women's bodies is an easy and effortless
form of religious struggle. In Egypt, we see dozens of Wahhabi sheiks who
enthusiastically advocate covering up women's bodies, but do not utter a single
word against despotism, corruption, fraud or torture because they know very well
that serious opposition to the despotic regime (which should really be their
first duty) would inevitably lead to their arrest, torture and the destruction
of their lives. Their strictness on things related to women's bodies enables
them to operate as evangelists without any real costs.

Somalia is a wretched country in the grip of famine and chaos, but officials
there are distracted from that by inspecting bras. The Sudanese regime is
implicated in crimes of murder, torture and raping thousands of innocents in
Darfur, but that does not stop it from putting on trial a woman who insisted on
wearing trousers.

It is women rather than men who always pay the price for despotism, corruption
and religious hypocrisy.

Fourth, the extremist ideology assumes that humans are a group of wild beasts
who are incapable of controlling their instincts, that it is enough for a man to
see a bare piece of female flesh for him to pounce on her and have intercourse.
This assumption is incorrect, because humans, unlike animals, always have the
power to control their instincts by willpower and ethics. An ordinary man, if he
is sane, cannot have his instincts aroused by his mother, sister, daughter or
even the wife of a friend, because his sense of honour and morality transcends
his desires and neutralizes their effect.

So virtue will never come about through bans, repression and pursuing women in
the street, but rather through giving children a good upbringing, propagating
morality and refining character.

According to official statistics, societies that impose segregation between men
and women (as in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia) do not have lower rates of sexual
crimes than other societies. The rates there may even be higher.


We favour and advocate modesty for women, but first we advocate a humane view of
women, a view that respects their abilities, their wishes and their thinking.

What is really saddening is that the Wahhabi extremism that is spreading
throughout the world with oil money and gives Muslims a bad image is as far as
can be from the real teachings of Islam. Anyone who reads the history of Islam
fairly has to be impressed by the high status it accords to women, because from
the time of the Prophet Mohammed until the fall of Andalusia, Muslim women mixed
with men, were educated, worked and traded, fought, and had financial
responsibilities separately from their fathers or husbands. They had the right
to choose the husband they loved and the right to divorce if they wanted.
Western civilization gave women these rights many centuries after Islam.

Finally, let me say that religious extremism is the other face of political
despotism. We cannot get rid of the extremism before we end the despotism.
Democracy is the solution

Alaa Al Aswany is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Yacoubian
Building and Chicago, and is a regular contributor to the Egyptian newspaper
AlShorouk. Alaa Al Aswany, The Globe and Mail.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book smashes India's "Islamic terrorism" myth

Book smashes India's "Islamic terrorism" myth
A former IG of Maharashtra police lays bare a massive plot to destabilise India

By M Zeyaul Haque

New Delhi, October 22 (The Milli Gazette): A new book curiously titled Who Killed Karkare? says a nationwide network of Hindutva terror that has its tentacles spread up to Nepal and Israel is out to destroy the India most Indians have known for ages and to remould it into some kind of Afghanistan under the Taliban.

The writer, a former IG Police of Maharashtra, SM Mushrif, has reconstructed a fearsome picture out of former Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare’s chargesheet against alleged Hindutva terrorists like Lt. Col. Purohit, Sadhvi Pragyasingh Thakur and others.

The chargesheet pointed towards a mind-boggling nationwide conspiracy with international support to destabilise the constitutional order and the secular democratic Indian state that upholds it, to be replaced by a Hindutva state run according to a new Constitution. For that the conspirators were prepared for a massive bloodbath, using bomb attacks on religious places to trigger that anti-Muslim holocaust.

Mushrif, who has over three decades of diligent policing behind him and whose feats include exposing the Telgi scam, has made an elaborate case out of nearly a dozen blasts over a large area of the country conducted by Hindutva terror groups of different stripes. His case: a section of India’s intelligence services, a miniscule group in the armed forces and a section of different state police forces have been compromised and infiltrated by these elements, a development that bodes ill for the future of the country.

In Hemant Karkare’s net (of investigations, of course) many big and small fishes of VHP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and Sanatan Sanstha (which has been found to be involved in Diwali-eve blasts in Goa last week) had been trapped. Serving and retired army officers, academics, serving and retired officials of India’s premier intelligence service were ensnared in Karkare’s fishing net. The menacing power of the latter groups, inspired by sustained anti-Muslim hate campaigns of the last six decades, gave the plot a sinister and highly destructive character.

Among the plans unearthed by Karkare was a blueprint for the assassination of 70 prominent Indians who could by a hindrance to the project of Hindutva. Interestingly, most of the persons marked for elimination would, naturally, be Hindus because it is they who primarily run the dispensation. The conspirators were also unhappy with organisations whose Hindutva they suspected to be less virulent than desired.

Mushrif, who very well knows the power of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to make or mar lives and careers, says he is prepared to face the consequences of hostility of this power hub. He musters “evidence” to show that the IB has regularly been interfering with regular police investigations to let Hindutva terrorists slip out of the net and replace them with random Muslim youth. To fudge the issues further obliging police officers in the states would not mind exterminating a few Muslim youth to be branded posthumously as “terrorists”.

There are quite a few number of such cases where such extra-judicial killing of Muslim youth has turned out to be false police encounters. All this is done to cover tracks of Hindutva terror. Mushrif says a “Brahminist” network that has its origins in Maharashtra, and is closely knit across political parties, government services, including IB, and other vital sectors of life is behind the terror that seeks to destroy the secular, democratic state. He hastens to clarify that very few Brahminists are Brahmins. Many are from other high Hindu castes, some from middle and lower castes.

Most Brahmins are fair-minded and would not like to associate themselves with hate ideologies. Hemant Karkare, too, was a Brahmin, Mushrif says. So is Mushrif’s son-in-law.

It is pertinent to note that “Brahminism” and “Brahminical order” first appeared in Dalit protest vocabulary in the Dalit uprising movement in Maharashtra towards the turn of the 20th century. Mushrif, who appropriates part of this vocabulary for the present discourse, says that Maharashtra still remains the centre of this ideology that, among other things, has the dubious distinction of killing the Father of the Nation.

The power establishment that really runs the affairs of this country (Mushrif says it is not Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi) does not want to expose the Hindutva terrorists. One example is the blasts in Samjhauta Express, which the IB said was carried out by Pakistan’s ISI. Mushrif quotes a report in The Times of India that said, “the Centre had blamed the ISI on the basis of the IB’s findings.” However, during a narco-analysis test under Karkare, Lt. Col. Purohit had admitted having supplied the RDX used in the blast. The IB, which draws its power from its proximity to the Prime Minister (its director briefs the PM every morning for half an hour), did not want Karkare’s investigation that blew the cover off the IB’s shenanigans, to continue.

Once Karkare was removed from the scene, the IB moved in to fill his position with KP Raghuvanshi, a pliant police officer with extremely low credibility among Muslims for his record of letting off known Hindutva terrorirsts and implicating innocent Muslim youth even in bomb attack cases on mosques.

There are quite a few interesting vignettes here, like Raghuvanshi and Col. Purohit’s association with Abhinav Bharat in Maharashtra, whose hand was evident in a series of blasts across the country. It has old connections with men like Veer Damodar Savarkar (whose relative Himani Savarkar leads the Abhinav Bharat movement), Dr Munje, who led the Hindu Mahasabha, and other Hindutva luminaries. It is at the Bhonsala Military Academy run by these groups that Purohit trained police officers, including Raghuvanshi. Mushrif asks a pertinent question: Will Raghuvanshi pursue the investigation against Purohit, his guru? A plausible answer is, perhaps no. Already charges have been dropped by a special court under MCOCA against 11 accused, including Purohit, on the grounds of insufficient evidence produced in the court by the prosecution.

This was just the beginning of the undoing of Karkare’s painstaking investigation. Mushrif says slowly the system is working to undo all of Karkare’s work and let off the terrorists who over the years destroyed scores of lives and wreaked irreparable economic damage. The ATS team under Karkare had pointed out VHP leader Praveen Togadia’s role in the blasts. The ATS under Raghuvanshi dropped the investigation against him saying (please hold your laughter) they do not know who Togadia is!

A number of investigations have been thus sabotaged by the powers that be and the tracks of the Hinduta terrorists duly covered. The 319-page book is crammed with such information.

But what about who killed Karkare? Mushrif says two teams were at work on 26/11 ­– one which did the maximum damage, and was from outside. The smaller team took advantage of the confusion of the moment and acted only on the relatively small CST-CAMA-Rangbhavan stretch that killed Karkare. It was a desi unit that wanted Karkare and his men out of the way.

Book: Who Killed Karkare? The Real Face of Terrorism in India
Author: SM Mushrif
Price: Rs 300
Pages: 319
Publisher: Pharos Media (, New Delhi
# #


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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.