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.



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Voice of Moderate Muslims

Voice of Moderate Muslims
Voice of Moderate Muslims

Moderate Islam Speaker

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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.