Monday, April 11, 2011

In defense of Islam, pursuing a civil dialogue

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/columnists/steve-blow/20100919-In-defense-of-Islam-pursuing-9397.ece 

By Steve Blow sblow@dallasnews.com Published 19 September 2010 02:28 AM

Over and over you hear it said: If Muslims oppose terrorism, why don't they stand up and say it?
If that has been you, Mike Ghouse ought to be your hero.

It is hard to imagine that anyone has worked harder than the Carrollton resident to demonstrate the peaceful and moderate side of Islam.

And that effort includes personally visiting Dallas' First Baptist Church last Sunday just to put a friendly face on the "evil, evil religion" that the Rev. Robert Jeffress denounced a few weeks before.

"It was wonderful," Ghouse said of the visit. "We were so warmly received."
He hopes a quick chat with Jeffress will be the start of deeper discussion about Islam and the importance of respect between religions.

"I want to have a dialogue with him, not to say he is wrong but to share another point of view," Ghouse said.

The 57-year-old Muslim was born in India and has lived in the United States for 30 years. He owns a small property management firm. But most of his day is devoted to building bridges between people of different faiths.

"It is my passion," he said in his distinctive raspy voice.

He has been a guest a dozen times on Sean Hannity's TV and radio talk shows. "I don't like the way Sean cuts me off, but I have to honor him for giving the American public a semblance of another point of view."

Ghouse said he can understand fear and criticism of Islam because he went through a time of similar feelings. As a teen, he was troubled by passages of the Quran. He called himself an atheist for a while.

But he said deeper study led him to realize the Quran had been purposely mistranslated down through history.

In the Middle Ages, European leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against Muslim invaders.

Later, Muslim leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and Jews.

"It was all for politics," he said.
Ghouse said he hopes to present Jeffress with a modern, faithful translation and challenge him to find evil verses.

"If he can, I will convert. I will join his church," Ghouse said. "If he can't, I will call on him to retract his statements and become a peacemaker."

Ghouse acknowledges that deep problems persist within Islam. "Three steps forward, two steps back," he said with a sigh.

And he agrees that mainstream Muslims have not done enough to counter violent images of their faith.

"That is very true," he said. "But part of it is that many Muslims have given up hope that we will ever be heard."

He said repeated denunciations of terrorism seem to fall on deaf ears.

And some efforts have backfired - like the proposed Islamic information center in New York. He said it should be hailed for furthering the moderate Muslim cause.
Instead, it has deepened hostility toward Muslims.

I have been astounded by the amount of anti-Islam propaganda that circulates via e-mail. Tons of it has come my way in the last few weeks.

One theme is that people like Mike Ghouse can't be trusted, that Islam encourages deception.

But Ghouse says actions speak louder than words. And he points to elections in Muslim nations.

More than half of Muslims live in countries with some degree of democracy. And time and time again, Islamist parties are overwhelmingly rejected in favor of secular, mainstream parties.

"The religious parties don't get more than 3 percent of the vote," Ghouse said.
Polls show deep mistrust of Muslims. "But the most important question in those surveys is: 'Do you know anything about Islam?' " Ghouse said. "Most people say no."
What keeps him going is faith in Americans, he said.

"The majority of Americans, if they know the truth, they will change their minds."
 

# # #

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, writer, thinker, futurist and an activist of Pluralism, Islam, India and Civil Societies passionately offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

He is a frequent guest at Fox News on the Hannity show, nationally syndicated Radio shows along with Dallas TV, Print and Radio networks and occasional interviews on NPR.  He has spoken at international forums including the Parliament of Worlds Religions in Melbourne, Middle East Peace initiative in Jerusalem, International Leadership conference in Hawaii, Washington and elsewhere.

Concerned by the divisiveness, he saw the need to bring Americans together and founded America Together Foundation committed to building a cohesive America, indeed it is in response to ACT America which is bent on pitching one American against the other.  We will be holding series of educational programs, conferences and workshops to address the issues that divide us such as Civil Right, GLBT, Quraan, Abortion, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Racial Profiling and Stereotyping.

The Annual Unity Day USA is in its 7th year now, it is a purposeful event to bring Americans together, on this Unity Day, we the people of the United States of America of every faith, race, ethnicity, culture and background will gather to express our commitment to co-existence, unity, prosperity and wellbeing of our nation.  

Thanksgiving Celebration is in its 15th year showcasing cultural diversity.

The 5th Annual Reflections on Holocaust and Genocides is to learn and to acknowledge and reflect upon the terrible things we have inflicted upon each other and commit to avert such tragedies.  Through this event non-Jewish people have consciously learned about Holocaust for the first time, it was also for the first time that people of 14 faiths came together to join in to commemorate the Holocaust that commemorated within the Jewish Community for years. They are not alone anymore in their anguish, we are all in it together with them, and it is a Muslim initiative to effect a positive change.

The programs, seminars and workshops conducted by the Foundation for Pluralism have become a part of the America Together Foundation. While the Foundation for Pluralism continues championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other, the commitment to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress continues.

Two books will be released this year; The American Muslim Agenda and My Journey to Pluralism.

Mike has written over 1000 Articles on Pluralism, Islam, India, Peace & Justice and civil societies published in a wide spectrum of Newspapers and Magazines around the world.

Locally, he is a panelist at Dallas Morning News's and writes weekly on a range of issues facing the nation. Washington Post, Huffington Post and other news papers and sites regularly publish his work.  

Mike is available to speak on Pluralism, Islam, Civil Societies, and Peace & Justice at your place of worship, school, work place, seminars, workshops or conferences. His work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.MikeGhouse.net/

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