By Mike Ghouse
April 24, 2013
(This essay is dedicated to the Muslim Interfaith activists - Maha ElGenaidi, Iftekhar Hai, Harris Zafar, Gehan Sabry, Ani Zonneveld.. And a few others listed below.)
The biggest disappointment in the interfaith world comes when your friends, who are usually rational in their approach to say this with ease, “These acts of terrorism are done in the name of Islam. I do not think the others were done in the name of Christianity etc. With the exception of Islam, other Religions variable accepts responsibility for the actions of their followers.” or this from an immigrant who has carried the baggage from overseas to this land, “Their silence angers me.. Especially when there was a bomb scare at my daughter’s school this week. I don't like it..and you know me, I love everyone... But they don't make it easy...” and this from an octogenarian who has been a part of the interfaith dialogue for the last 20 years, “Qur'an teaches them to lie”.
It is frustrating; if you are out there in the trenches, you will fully understand it. There is a saying in India, "after you hear the Ramayana (story / play) for the entire night, how dumb of you to ask, what was the relationship between Rama and Sita?
When you hear that kind of ignorance after years of exchanges, the instant feeling that comes to your mind is to walk away from it. Instead go make the money with that time, take the vacation and pay Sadaqah (Voluntary Charity) to extinguish the guilt, to feel good about not doing enough of the unselfish good.
That was a fleeting feeling, I have recouped since then. We cannot let impatience take over or throw us into the rotten business of score keeping and getting even. It will create a bigger wedge. We just cannot let our short term feelings temper the long term good of the society.
There are thousands of us out there from every faith tradition spending days and nights to build a cohesive society, where each of us learns about the other, and earns a respectable space in the society, so all of us can learn to respect the other and live our lives.
My mentors are Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Krishna, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. among others. Everything they did was to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill; it was for the common good of humanity.
This pulls me to the wisdom of Bhagavad Gita, my 2nd favourite book after Qur'an, “You have a right to perform your duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action, never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” The guidance is similar in all religions. God (Qur'an) says to the Prophet, don’t be frustrated if people don’t get your message, your job is to do the dharma, the duty to deliver the message, and it’s up to me to bless the guidance.
A majority of the articles I write weave through the wisdom of several religions and we need to continue to do that. No matter what hurdles or frustrations we go through, we cannot let anyone derail us.
I thank my interfaith friends for writing those unpleasant words, there is a whole lot more out there, worse than this, and unfortunately it comes from the wisest people in the interfaith circles. I am glad they wrote this, and it reminds us, we have a lot more work to do.
What prompted this?
My weekly article in Dallas Morning news | The righteous mind of Tsarnaev Brothers.
3,300 Americans have been killed in violence since the Newtown Massacre. Was the Newtown killer, Wisconsin shooter or the Denver murderer authorized by Americans Christians to kill? American Muslims did not authorize Major Nidal and Faisal Shahzad either. Indeed, if they had any inkling, they would have been the first to report them to the FBI. Timothy McVeigh was a loonely and acted on his own, so are the Tsarnaev brothers who acted on their own -
The long term ideal would be for us to uplift ourselves in public policy; no one should look at the criminals’ race, religion or ethnicity. I hope a day will come when Muslims don't have to condemn the acts of these criminals, and they should not be held accountable for the crimes of the criminals who follow a similar faith, just as you and I would not go to jail for the murders committed by a family member. They committed the crime and they get blamed and punished, not anyone else.
As a civil society, we have the responsibility to sort the right from the wrong. We should not buy into the alibis of the criminals, first they committed the crime, and then they want to dupe us (all of us) into believing that Islam made them do it. As long as they sell this idea and we buy it, the blame gets shifted and we bark at the wrong tree. Islam did not commit the crime; these men did it and must be punished to the maximum extent of the law.
These criminals are way too smart; they want to deflect the blame to an intangible item like religion to save their tail. We should not let them blame a religion, any religion for that matter. Get them, just like we do with all criminals. Major Nidal yelled Allahu Akbar before opening the fire that is not an Islamic act, he used it reflexively – the words are to be used when you are praying.
Criminals will commit the crime any way, God does not matter to them, morals mean nothing to them, life has no value to them, and punishment does not deter these men – the Tsarnaev brothers, McVeigh’s and 50 others. Rachel Maddow has listed many of the criminals at: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/
Its human to err and human to misunderstand. The greater call is to know each other. This article explores the phobias we all have about knowing the truth. In this case, I urge you to read 5 verses before and after, and you may find yourselves freer with lesser bias. It’s frightening to be free
Although no community is responsible, or should be responsible for the actions of the individuals that profess similar faith, similar origins of ethnicity or similar race, Muslims have done more than their share.
The Muslim community has done everything possible to guard the safety of fellow Americans, and nearly all of the bad guys caught by the FBI were reported by Muslims. Indeed the NYPD surveillance report violated civil rights, but the outcome absolved the Muslim community from radicalization.
GOP Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House’s homeland security subcommittee said this week: “Ninety-nine percent of Muslims are outstanding Americans, but the fact is, that’s where the threat is coming,” and added, ““If you know a threat is coming from a certain community, that’s where you look.”
As a Muslim I welcome this with a caution to Congressman Peter King: No witch hunting, sir. You will do more harm to the cohesive fabric of America than those terrorists could ever do. Please heed the wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr. He said “Injustice to one is injustice to all.” Inflicting apprehension on Muslims is drilling fear in all Americans.
In the retreat a month ago, where representative King, Ambassador Bolton and almost all of the Fox commentators were present - Sean Hannity gave me the stage and assured that he is after the radicals and not Muslims, and I am glad to hear a modified tone of Representative King. Two nights ago, I was with him on TV with Buchanan - Sean kept his word from the retreat that he would not attack Islam or Muslims but the radicals among Muslims, and I salute him for the same. Indeed it was repeated on the radio show two days ago with Brigitte Gabriel and Steve Emerson.
ISNA is exonerated by the Federal judge from the charges of co-conspiracy. CAIR would have been shut down by the FBI, if they were co-conspirators. No one can BS us that these organizations will not let the FBI investigate them. I was able to articulate the ISNA part with Hannity on his Radio show yesterday with Brigitte Gabrielle and Steve Emerson. Indeed, I asked both of them to take history lessons - terrorism did not exist significantly prior to the Munich bombing in 1971. All the problems of terrorism we see have its seed in the Israel Palestine conflict. If we can work security to Israel and Justice to the Palestinians, we can mitigate most of the problems. Pat Buchanan on Hannity was parroting that Muslims don't condemn terrorism. I asked him to Google and look up the site www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
And since the last two days the site is visited over 150,000 times.
A few Muslims have been on my tail, some of them hate me outright for being on Fox – a non-Muslim thing to judge others without knowing a thing. Although I have not been able to say everything my Muslim friends expect me to say, I have been able to offer a semblance of another point of view on his show.
When he said, I respect you, and will be careful in distinguishing Muslims and Radical Muslims, it was worth my time and my three years with him, and every ounce of humiliation in the first 5 shows was worth it. Indeed, he has kept his promise most of the times. I salute him for that; not only that, Representative King and others present in the retreat have adopted that tone that I have quoted above.
As a community, some of us do not deal with conflicts well. We mirror the right wingers– we don’t negotiate with terrorists. Hell, then who do you make peace with? Mother Teresa has said something to that effect.
Hannity is indeed a good guy, and if we learn to see his point of view (my article at Dallas Morning on the topic), and then he will see our point of view. It is a good example of engaging with patience.
We Have A Lot Of Work To Do.
This note is dedicated to some of my Muslim interfaith friends who are in the trenches, dealing with the tough questions, embarrassment, doubts and concerns in their public meetings with fellow humans of different faiths.
Maha ElGenaidi, Iftekhar Hai, Shahla Khan Salter, Rafiq Lodhia, Dr. Amina Wadud, Dr. Najeeba Syeed Miller, Ani Zonneveld, Pamela Taylor, Dr. Mohamed Taher, Gehan Sabry, Harris Zafar and several others. Mind you, they are not dealing with surface goody-goody conversations, but with deep conflicts and mitigation thereof. We can handle most conflicts.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world.