Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reflections on forgiveness

Dear Rabbi Lerner,


 I applaud you for the stand you taken on justice; we have to stand up for Justice to every one of the seven billion of us, it ain't justice if it protects me at the cost of others and most certainly it will have an adverse effect on others.  To have sustainable peace, security and justice for me, I have to make sure others receive the same; I cannot be secure if others around me are not and on the corollary, I cannot have peace when others around me don't.


Krishna sums it up very well in Bhagvad Gita; whenever there is adharma (un-righteousness), I will emerge among you and restore the righteousness.  Didn't Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Nanak, Gandhi, MLK and other peace makers do just that? History is replete with the story of social justice; indeed, the sole purpose of peace makers was to bring justice to the society.


The fraction of Muslims have caused the world to stereotype Muslims, likewise the fraction of Jews are causing the same. I am glad you are standing up to the extremists amongst Jews and I will continue to stand up against extremists among Muslims.


As a society we have to develop educational programs to bring comfort to the extremists among us and help mitigate their imaginary fears.  They can certainly reflect their phobias and imaginary fears, but not ascribe it to their faith.


Interfaithing is one of the answers, and it is NOT about uniting religions, it is about hearing each other to remove myths and falsehoods about other faiths and learn to live without fear of the other.

It is in our interest to live freely; it amazes me how a few of us keep living in fears every moment of our lives, and much of the fear is imaginary - like a child being afraid of the boogey man that ain't there.


Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Justice, Islam, India and Civil Societies. He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His work is reflected at 3 websites & 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/





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Editor's Note:


Every night since the attack on my home by right-wing Zionists, I've been saying a prayer of forgiveness for them. While the political meaning of that act, and of the demeaning of critics of Israel, will be explored more fully in the July/August issue of Tikkun, on the spiritual level it is very important to not let negativity, even terrorism or violence, get the upper hand by bringing us down to the same level of anger or hatred that motivates those who act violently attack  or those who demean and attempt to delegitimate the critics of Israel's treatment of Palestinians.


If we are to build a world of love, we have to constantly work against the impulse to respond to anger and hatred with our own angry or hateful response. So,  every night,  I work on forgiving those who have assaulted my home, those who publicly demean me or Tikkun or the NSP, and those who spread hatred against the many people in our world who legitimately critique the policies of the State of Israel toward Palestinians.


It was in this context that I thought I'd forward you some notes taken by therapist Linda Graham at a recent weekend retreat on Forgiveness conducted by Jack Kornfeld and Fred Luskin. Fred is author of Forgive For Good and Jack is the author of The Art of Forgivenes, Loving Kindness and After the Ecstasy The Laundry (and teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in northern California). Linda Graham who took these notes is a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Francisco--her website is www.lindagraham-mft.com


--Rabbi Michael Lerner  RabbiLerner@Tikkun.org   www.spiritualprogressives.org


P.S. if you haven't signed up for the conference yet, please do so now at www.spiritualprogressives.org/conference.




Reflections on Forgiveness
1.  Both Jack and Fred gave many examples of the universality of suffering, injustice, betrayal, both on an international scale, like the multi-generational hostility and strife in the Middle East, in Eastern Europe, in Southeast Asia, in Ireland, in Africa, and on the deeply personal scale of blame-shame-built walls with the parents, partners, children we want to hold nearest and dearest.  We hurt people and are hurt by people because we are people.  Experiences of loss, betrayal, hurt are inevitable when human beings are caught in the human conditions of greed, hatred, ignorance.  There is such poignancy to the struggle when we are caught ourselves in blame, resentment, bitterness.  Our pain becomes encased in neural cement and we're stuck.  Forgiveness practice is a choice we make for ourselves to not perpetuate that suffering.
Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.  - Martin Luther King, Jr.


2.  Both Jack and Fred agree that forgiveness is a process; it's not a one-shot deal.  It's a daily and lifelong practice to move through layers and layers of hurt and grief and re-open the heart to compassion and kindness.  In this sense, forgiveness is independent of content.  I.e., it doesn't so much matter who did what to you or who; it's our response that is the practice.  Blame-anger-hatred keep us physiologically aroused.  When feel we're still in threat, it's not safe to forgive.
Fred said that not forgiving, staying in bitterness, anger, hostility, is like drinking a cup of poison and waiting for the other person to die.  Jack mentioned two prisoners of war being released to return home.  One asked the other, "Have you forgiven our captors?"  "I'll NEVER forgive them!" the second one replied.  "They still have you in prison then, don't they?"
The choice is ours, and the responsibility to choose is ours, to create conditions for happiness or bitterness.  Loving kindness and other practices outlined below regulate our bodies back to the open, compassionate state where it is possible to forgive.
Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregores revenge, and dares forgive an injury.
            - E. H. Chapin
3.  Jack and Fred offered similar understandings of what forgiveness is: the inner peace and wise perspective that allows us to keep our hearts open in the face of injustice, betrayal, harm.  We are simply poisoning ourselves when we don't.  And what it is not: a bypass of condoning, pardoning, forgetting, false reconciliation, appeasement, sentimentality.  Neither is forgiveness necessarily bringing to complete resolution every individual complaint or grievance, however legitimate.  It's a practice, daily and lifelong, to keep the heart open in the face of trying circumstances.
Forgo your anger for a moment and save yourself a hundred days of trouble.
           - Chinese proverb
4.  Both Jack and Fred anchor forgiveness practice in a deeply felt sense of our own goodness, our own innate capacities for wisdom and love, our Buddha Nature.  (See Exercises below to access this felt sense.)  To remember that we, and all beings, are "nobly born." And that the capacity for kindness is as hardwired into our neural circuitry as the tendencies to contract in pain and suffering.  This helps us bypass our body's adrenalin reactions that fuel our sense of personal threat and drama, and allows us to re-open into a spacious calmness; from there we can forgive.
We consciously reflect on (or learn from research) the benefits of cultivating kindness, compassion, gratitude, equanimity in the face of sorrow, hurt, grief to support our forgiveness practice.  All of these pro-social practices are Wise Effort: the path of choosing to end suffering, in all its forms, and to cultivate the wholesome in all its forms.  Even if we don't know how to forgive very well, we have compassion and forgive ourselves for lack of that skill. Forgiveness is the culmination of a long series of practices to open the heart.
5.  Then we begin to cultivate a willingness to let go of our personal suffering, our personal drama, our well-rehearsed personal stories and identities of victimhood, our personal complaints and bitterness that create a state of mind and heart where kindness and forgiveness are biologically impossible.  Those neural pathways of contraction and protection are well-established.  It's so easy to go into complaining, criticism, contempt.   We have to be willing to soften that neural cement.  We have to stop adrenalizing to be safe enough to be kind.  We have to set an intention to stop being in contention with the world, to stop projecting our disgruntlement onto the world, to give up resentment, bitterness, entitlement. Not deny our pain, but not to linger  We're not indifferent, but we're not stuck in drama either.   Understanding, compassion, grief, forgiveness are the open-hearted response to a human life's vulnerability to change. The willingness, the intention, re-sets the compass of the heart so we can re-claim our larger self, our larger consciousness, our larger kindness that can open to compassion for ourselves.  These practices put us back on the track of integrity, dignity, and possibility.  There comes an awareness beyond self, and eventually to compassion for others who have acted in misguided or harmful ways.
When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.
          - Catherine Ponder
6.  Both Fred and Jack emphasized the necessity of honest grieving over harm experienced as we cultivate this willingness, this intention to practice forgiveness.  The heart needs to feel its legitimate pain before it can be moved to let it go.  Being stuck in blame can create a sense of victimhood, but honest grief work can help the underlying hurt, fear, anger resolve and move through, making the practice of forgiveness digestible and workable.
Let the pain be pain, not in the hope that it will vanish but in the faith that it will fit in, find its place in the shape of things, and be then not any less pain but true to form....That's what we're looking for: not the end of a thing but the shape of it.
            - Albert Huffstickler
7.  Forgiveness is a process that happens over time, layer by layer.  Start practicing forgiveness where it's easiest - your dog for tearing up the carpet or your child for spilling potato salad all over the kitchen floor.  Yourself for losing your cool in rush hour traffic or forgetting to pay the phone bill on time. Then "broaden and build."  Practice forgiveness in more and more challenging situations or with more and more challenging people where the stakes get higher until you're ready to tackle the "unforgiveable" with courage and care.  Life is full of "forgiveness moments," big and small, where we practice over and over again remaining open-hearted.
You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.
- Lewis B. Smedes
8.  Begin doing a formal forgiveness practice (see Exercises below for Jack's exquisite meditations on forgiving one's self, asking forgiveness from another, offering forgiveness to another.  You can include forgiving life for things not going the way you want them to go, too.)  In the Buddhist monasteries, monks practice forgiveness 300 times until it becomes a natural practice of the heart.  Even if you do forgiveness practice only five minutes a day, do it every day, day after day,  Once a day brings you to 300 times to establish the practice less than a year.  Five minutes three times a day brings you there in a little less than three months.
It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed our own.
            - Jessamyn West
9.  Include all layers of processing experience in your forgiveness practice. When we feel something in our body, it feels so real to us "it must be true." It can be hard to change that neural reactivity.   Sometimes working in somatic-based trauma therapy is necessary to release bodily-held rage, hostility, defensiveness or collapse into powerlessness.  We do have to stop adrenalizing before we can feel save enough to forgive.
Sometimes we have to learn new skills in experiencing and expressing the intense emotions that sometimes erupt as we focus on experiences that need our forgiveness.  We learn to take responsibility for our emotional experience, having compassion for ourselves in moments of  "there I go again."
We give up all hope of a better past and patiently, perseveringly re-structure our thoughts and belief systems, especially any lingering feeling like the universe revolves around us in an entitled way, or clinging to an identity as a victim.  Forgiveness practice doesn't re-write history, but it does allow us to re-write our story of our history.  We can re-perceive ourselves as hero rather than victim for all the courage and resiliency it takes to learn and grow enough to forgive.
The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise.
            - Alden Nowlan
10.  Finally, our forgiveness practice shifts our perspectives.   We begin to take things less personally.  We see that my pain is part of the pain of all human beings, universally.  We see that the suffering of every life is held in a larger consciousness that holds all the arising and falling away of all of existence. We begin to trust in something larger than our separate personal lives.  We begin to see that forgiveness practice doesn't necessarily end suffering, but it makes life livable.  We see that forgiveness practice is a tremendous catalyst for growth and healing;  we become a forgiving person.  (Like becoming a loving, compassionate, open-hearted person.)   We claim the undeniable goodness of our life.
     Poetry and Quotes to Inspire
Life without forgiveness is unbearable.
            - Jack Kornfield
Between a stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response.  In our response lies our growth and our freedom.  The last of human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances.
            - Viktor Frankl
I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
            - James Baldwin
The person who betrayed you is sunning themselves on a beach in Hawaii and you're knotted up in hatred.  Who is suffering?
- Jack Kornfield.
When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future.
            - Bernard Meltzer
Forgiveness and reconciliation are not just ethereal, spiritual, other-- worldly activities. They have to do with the real world. They are realpolitik, because in a very real sense, without forgiveness, there is no future.          
            - Desmond Tutu
For Someone Who Did You Wrong
Though its way is to strike
In a dumb rhythm,
Stroke upon stroke,
As though the heart
Were an anvil,
The hurt you sent
Had a mind of its own.
Something in you knew
Exactly how to shape it,
To hit the target,
Slipping into the heart
Through some wound-window
Left open since childhood.
While it struck outside,
It burrowed inside,
Made tunnels through
Every ground of confidence.
For days, it would lie still
Until a thought would start it.
Meanwhile, you forgot,
Went on with things
And never even knew
How that perfect
Shape of hurt
Still continued to work.
Now a new kindness
Seems to have entered time
And I can see how that hurt
Has schooled my heart
In a compassion I would
Otherwise have never learned.


How not to deal with Muslims in America

The following article may evoke different understandings, not everything we read or see is 100% digestible, but there are parts that certainly stand out.
Salisbury writes, "That a Muslim immigrant would not think twice about this simple civic act speaks volumes about the power of American society and the actual day-to-day lives and conduct of Muslims in this nation, particularly immigrant Muslims."
There have been studies done extensively where someone is murdered or raped in day light where no one pays attention, in many a incidents no one wants to get involved. Secondly there is other side of human beings; civic responsibility. I am pondering over the writers assumption that a Muslim immigrant would not think twice... civic responsibility is a human characteristic regardless of the religion one believes in, just as destruction is the characteristic of the deviants.
Nias, lays out a great truth, " "If one person is bad, they are going to say everybody for this religion." That is wrong and is stereotyping and that is one of the things that worsens a given situation. It is no worse than stereotyping Italians, Irish, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Mexicans, African Americans, Arabs and others. 
Mike Ghouse
Citizen Alioune
How not to deal with Muslims in America
by Stephan Salisbury
Alioune Niass, the Sengalese Muslim vendor who first spotted the now infamous smoking SUV in Times Square and alerted police, is no hero.
If it were not for the Times of London, we would not even know of his pivotal role in the story. No mainstream American newspaper bothered to mention or profile Niass, who peddles framed photographs of celebs and the Manhattan skyline. None of the big television stations interviewed him.
As far as the readers of the New York Times are concerned – not to mention the New York Post and the Daily News – Niass doesn't exist. Nor does he exist for President Obama, who telephoned Lance Orton and Duane Jackson, two fellow vendors, to thank them for their alertness in reporting the SUV. The New York Mets even fetedJackson and Orton as heroes at a game with the San Francisco Giants.
And Niass? Well, no presidential phone calls, no encomiums, no articles (though his name did finally surface briefly at a New York Times blog several days after the incident), no free Mets tickets. Yet as the London Times reported, it was Niass who first saw the clouds of smoke seeping from the SUV on that Saturday night.
He hadn't seen the car drive up, because he was attending to customers – and, for a vendor in Times Square, Saturday nights are not to be taken lightly. Niass was alarmed, however, when he saw that smoke. "I thought I should call 911," he told theTimes, "but my English is not very good and I had no credit left on my phone, so I walked over to Lance, who has the T-shirt stall next to mine, and told him. He said we shouldn't call 911. Immediately he alerted a police officer nearby." Then the cop called 911.
So Lance got the press, and he and Jackson, who also reported the SUV, have been celebrated as "heroes." As the Times interview with Niass has made the Internet rounds, there have been calls for the recognition of his "heroism," too.
These three men all acted admirably. The two other vendors did what any citizen ought to do on spotting a smoldering car illegally parked on a busy street. But heroes? In the case of Niass, characterizing him as a hero may in a sense diminish the significance of his act.
A vendor in New York since 9/11, he saw something amiss and reported it, leading him into contact with the police. That a Muslim immigrant would not think twice about this simple civic act speaks volumes about the power of American society and the actual day-to-day lives and conduct of Muslims in this nation, particularly immigrant Muslims.
This was a reasonably routine act for Orton and Jackson, but for Niass it required special courage, and the fact that he acted anyway only underscores what should be an obvious fact about Muslims in post-9/11 America: they represent a socially responsible and engaged community like any other.
Assault on American Muslims
Why do I say that his act required courage?
Like many Muslim immigrants in New York City and around the country, Niass senses that he is viewed with suspicion by fellow citizens – and particularly by law enforcement authorities – simply because of his religion. In an interview withDemocracy Now!, that essential independent radio and television news program, Niass said that, in terrorism cases, law enforcement authorities view every Muslim as a potential threat. Ordinary citizens become objects of suspicion for their very ordinariness. "If one person is bad, they are going to say everybody for this religion. That is, I think, wrong."
As far as Niass is concerned, terrorists are, at best, apostates, irreligious deviants. "That not religion," he told his interviewer, "because Islam religion is not terrorist. Because if I know this guy is Muslim, if I know that, I'm going to catch him before he run away."
The New York Police Department Intelligence Division, the FBI, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement all routinely run armies of informers through the city's Middle Eastern and South Asian communities. In the immediate wake of 9/11, sections of New York experienced sweeps by local and federal agents. The same in Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, and communities on the West Coast – everywhere, in fact, that Muslims cluster together.
I've been reporting on this for years (and have made it the subject of my bookMohamed's Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland). Despite the demurrals of law enforcement officials, these sweeps and ongoing, ever widening investigations have focused exclusively on Muslim enclaves. I have seen the destructive impact on family and community such covert police activity can have: broken homes, deported parents, bereft children, suicides, killings, neighbors filled with mutual suspicions, daily shunning as a fact of life. "Since when is being Muslim a crime?" one woman whose husband had been swept up off a street in Philadelphia asked me.
Muslim residents have been detained, jailed, and deported by the thousands since 9/11. We all know this, and law enforcement and federal officials have repeatedly argued that these measures are necessary in the new era ushered in by al-Qaeda. A prosecutor once candidly told me that it made no sense to spend time investigating or watching non-Muslims. Go to the source, he said.
Radicalization Is a Problem of Limited Proportions
There are many problems with this facile view, and two recent studies – one from a think-tank funded in large part by the federal government, the other from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and the University of North Carolina's departments of religion and sociology (using a U.S. Department of Justice grant) – highlight some of the most glaring contradictions.
The Rand Corporation studied the incidence of terrorist acts since Sept. 11, 2001, and found that the problem, while serious, was wildly overblown. There have been, Rand researchers determined, all of 46 incidents of Americans or long-time U.S. residents being radicalized and attempting to commit acts of terror (most failing woefully) since 9/11. Those incidents involved a total of 125 people. Think about that number for a moment: it averages out to about six cases of purported radicalization and terrorism a year. Faisal Shahzad's utterly inept effort in Times Square would make incident 47. In the 1970s, the report points out, the country endured, on average, around 70 terrorist incidents a year. From January 1969 to April 1970 alone, the U.S. somehow managed to survive 4,330 bombings, 43 deaths, and $22 million of property damage.
The Rand report, "Would-Be Warriors: Incidents of Jihadist Terrorist Radicalization in the United States since September 11, 2001," argues that ham-handed surveillance and aggressive police investigations can be, and often are, counter-productive, sowing a deep-seated fear of law enforcement and immigration authorities throughout Muslim communities – whose assistance is vital in coping with the threat of Islamic terrorism, tiny as it is here.
Family members, friends, and neighbors are far more likely to know when someone is headed down a dangerously radical path than the police, no matter how many informers may be in a neighborhood. "On occasion, relatives and friends have intervened," the Rand researchers write. "But will they trust the authorities enough to notify them when persuasion does not work?" And will the authorities actually use the information provided by family members when they receive it? Don't forget the perfunctory manner in which CIA officials treated the father of the underwear bomber when he tried to report his son as an imminent threat.
The second study, conducted by a research team from Duke University and the University of North Carolina, found similarly small numbers of domestic terror plots and incidents since 9/11. The report identifies 139 Muslim Americans who have been prosecuted for planning or executing acts of terrorist violence since Sept. 11, 2001, an average of 17 a year. (Again, most of these attempted acts of terror, as in the Shahzad case, were ineptly planned, if planned at all.) Like the Rand report, the Duke-UNC study highlights the meager numbers: "This level of 17 individuals a year is small compared to other violent crime in America but not insignificant. Homegrown terrorism is a serious but limited problem."
The Duke-UNC researchers conducted 120 in-depth interviews with Muslims in four American cities to gain insight into the problem of homegrown Islamic terrorism and the response of Muslim Americans to it. Why so few cases? Why so little radicalization? Not surprisingly, what the researchers found was widespread hostility to extremist ideologies and strong Muslim community efforts to quash them – efforts partially driven by a desire for self-protection, but more significantly by moral, ethical, and theological hostility to violent fundamentalist ideologies.
Both of these reports underscore the importance of what the researchers call "self-policing" within Muslim communities. They consider it a critical and underutilized factor in combating terrorism in the U.S. Far from being secretive breeding grounds for radicalism, the Duke-UNC report argues, mosques and other Muslim community institutions build ties to the nation and larger world while working to root out extremist political fundamentalism. It was not for nothing that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed instructed his 9/11 hijackers to steer clear of Muslim Americans, their mosques, and their institutions.
The UNC-Duke report urges federal and local officials to work aggressively to integrate Muslim communities even more fully into the American political process. Authorities, it suggests, should be considering ways of supporting and strengthening those communities by actively promoting repeated Muslim denunciations of violence. (Such condemnations have been continuous since 9/11 but are rarely reported in the press.) Public officials should also work to ensure that social service agencies are active in Muslim neighborhoods, should aggressively pursue claimed infractions of civil rights laws, and should focus on establishing working relationships with Muslim groups when it comes to terrorism and law enforcement issues.
The Times Square incident – and, yes, the small but vital role played by Alioune Niass – illustrate the importance of these commonsensical recommendations. Yet the media has ignored Niass, and law-enforcement agencies have once again mounted a highly public, fear-inducing investigation justified in the media largely by anonymous leaks. This recreates the creepy feeling of what happened in the immediate aftermath of 9/11: the appearance of a massive, chaotic, paranoid probe backed by media speculation disguised as reporting. A warehouse raided in South Jersey. Why? No answers. A man led away in handcuffs from a Boston-area home. Who is he? What is his role? Was he a money man? Maybe. But maybe not. Suspicious packages. Oddly parked trucks. Tips. Streets closed. Bomb squads cautiously approaching ordinary boxes or vehicles. No answers – even after the all-clear rings out and the yellow caution tape comes down.
More importantly, the controlled flow of anonymous leaks to the mainstream press has laid the groundwork for the Obama administration to threaten Pakistan harshly – even as Iraq and Afghanistan sink further into deadly and destructive fighting – and to ponder extreme revisions of criminal procedures involving the rights of suspects. The administration's radical suggestion to suspend Miranda rights and delay court hearings for terrorism suspects amounts to a threat to every American citizen's right to an attorney and a defense against state power. Is this the message the country wants to send "the evil doers," as President Bush used to call them?
Or have we already taken the message of those evil doers to heart? Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen taken into custody on American soil, disappeared into the black hole of interrogation for more than two weeks – despite President Obama's assertion to a CIA audience over a year ago that "what makes the United States special … is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy, even when we are afraid and under threat, not just when it's expedient to do so."
When the going gets tough, as Attorney General Holder made clear on Meet the Presson May 9, the tough change the rules. "We're now dealing with international terrorists," he said, "and I think that we have to think about perhaps modifying the rules that interrogators have and somehow coming up with something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face." None of this is good news for Muslims in America – or for the rest of us.
Stephan Salisbury is cultural writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His most recent book is Mohamed's Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland.The latest TomCast audio interview in which he discusses the words that changed our world since Sept. 11, 2001, can be heard by clicking here or downloaded to your iPod by clicking here.
[Note to Readers: If you are interested in reading the Duke University-University of North Carolina study, it is available by clicking here, as is the Rand report by clicking here. (Note that both are .pdf files.) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's aversion to contact with U.S. Muslims is mentioned in evidence presented at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui and can be found in .pdf format on page 36 of defense exhibit 941 here. For another view of just how overblown the Islamic terrorist threat in the U.S. is, check out Tom Engelhardt's "Fear, Inc."]
Copyright 2010 Stephan Salisbury

Monday, May 24, 2010

Interfaith, intra-faith, pluralism, religion & spirituality

ABSTRACT: Interfaithing is NOT about uniting religions, it is about hearing each other, and learning to remove myths and falsehoods about other faiths and live without fear of the other. Much of the fear is imaginary - like a child being afraid of the boogey man that ain't there. Let the goodness in you find the goodness in others.

Continued: http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2010/05/interfaith-intra-faith-pluralism.html

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Islam and Human Rights

Over a billion humans in the world today are Muslims. As Muslims, they believe in human rights. But their bill of human rights is not one composed by a committee of scholars or leaders, resolved and promulgated by a government, a parliament, or a representative assembly. What humans compose can only be tentative; and what they resolve can only be temporary. With their partial knowledge and passing interests, humans are known always to contend with one another, to agree and disagree and to keep on changing. Human rights cannot be subject to such vicissitudes.

Hence, Muslims believe in a bill of human rights which is eternal whose author is Allah — subhanahu wa ta’ala (SWT). Theirs is a bill which was taught by all the prophets and which is crystallized in the Holy Qur’an, the revelation which came to the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (SAAS). Islam’s bill of human rights was promulgated by God for all places and times. The Islamic bill of human rights is the oldest, as well as the most perfect and greatest. The Muslims of the world rejoice that humanity has in this century come to acknowledge the greater part of Islam’s Bill of human rights and pray that Allah (SWT) may guide humankind to recognize these rights and actualize them in their lives.

The Islamic bill of human rights is a system of axiolgical principles or values. The deontological applications of them, or the duties and ought’s deriving therefrom, have been elaborated in the shari’ah — the law of Islam. Hence, Islam’s human rights are not merely ethical desiderata, or ideals of administrative policy, which cannot be invoked in legal processes. They have the full force of established law, and they have been known both to the literate and illiterate a whole millennium before the age of printing. Equally, except in a few cases, the letter of the prescriptive elaborations of human rights in Islam is not sacrosanct and hence absolutely unalterable.
The qualities of eternity and immutability belong to the principles behind the prescriptive elaboration, not to their figurization , i.e. to the legal form given them by translation of the purposes of the law into legislative prescriptions. Eternity and absoluteness, belong in the main, to the axiological postulates. With the exception of these postulates and directions, all deontological elaborations, whether legal or methodological, and other prescriptive particularizations of the shari’ah are ever-open to reinterpretation by humans. This openness is dictated by the ever-changing conditions and situations of human life which demand in turn a readiness on the part of the law to meet them in pursuit of its eternal objectives. The shari’ah is divine and eternal therefore, not in its letter, but in its spirit.

The letter of the law is honoured precisely because of its derivation from that which is divine and eternal. To enable itself to move with time and to accommodate changing human conditions, the shari’ah established the science of usul al fiqh. This science recognized from the earliest time that the shari’ah has other sources, besides the texts of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, which guarantee dynamism and creativity. To this purpose, usul al fiqh established a methodology of logical deduction and analogical extrapolation from the data revelata, as well as criteria for an empirical discovery of the common welfare of the people which it declared an equally valid source of law. For the overwhelming majority of Muslims (the adherents of the Hanafi, Maliki and Ja’fari schools or madhahib of law) to establish critically — i.e. empirically — the requisites of public welfare and to subsume them, either through istihsan (juristic preference) or maslahah (juristic consideration of the commonweal), under the Maqasid al Shari’ah (the general purpose of the law), is the pinnacle of juristic wisdom and Islamic piety.

We are therefore dealing with neither a fossilized law whose form or letter is immutable; nor with a flux of precepts which change with every situation. Rather, Islam’s human rights are anchored in eternal principles or values whose applications may develop following human situations, but only with critical guarantees for the permanence of those principles and values.

As values, Islam’s human rights arrange themselves in clusters and are best discerned as such; for a recognition of each value becomes at once a recognition of its relatives, as well as of its order of rank within the cluster and in the realm of values as a whole. There are nine such clusters.

I. Values Associated with Birth

All humans are born innocent.1

1) There is neither original sin nor fall; neither vicarious guilt, nor vicarious merit; neither predestination to be saved, nor to be condemned.2

2) On the contrary, all humans are created in the best of forms and perfect; i.e., endowed with faculties which enable them to recognise their Creator and their creaturely status, to discern good and evil, to acknowledge their own human rights and obligations.3

3) They are created absolutely equal. Their physical characteristics as well as those which pertain to the geography or sociography of their birth and are no more than aids for personal identification.4

4) There can therefore be no division of human castes, destined at birth for one kind of living or another, as Hinduism claims; or into classes destined at birth for one kind of function or another, as Marxism claims; nor predestination to salvation or damnation as Calvin taught; nor, finally, ontological election to a “chosen” status different from all humans, as Judaism claims. A human’s personal worth or unworth can never be a function of that person’s birth. To be born is to have the right to be, to live as long as God alone permits. No one may be deprived of life except for legitimate cause, and none may take away his own life.5

5) Equally, to be born is to be endowed with God’s amanah or trust to actualize the divine patterns, i.e., to realize the absolute in this space-time.6

6) This is the meaning of khilafah or vicegerency of God.7

7) As well as the ground of cosmic status, the station higher than that of the angels, which belongs to all humans by virtue of birth.8

8) No human may be deprived of the right to fulfill the amanah and khilafah, to the full extent of one’s power.

II. Values Associated with Childhood

All humans are entitled to have parents, descendents from whom gives them their names and identities.9

9) No foundling may remain a foundling but must be rehabilitated into his natural family.10 All children are entitled to love and care on the part of their parents or guardians as well as to acculturation and socialization, to guidance and discipline, to redress and punishment where necessary.

10) All humans are entitled to a free education which fully develops their potentialities and prepares them for their khilafah.11

11) They are entitled to training in the vocation best adapted to their capacities so as to produce in their productive years more than they cost or consume from conception to burial. Unless they do so they would not have increased the total quantitative and qualitative good of creation, of history, which is the criterion of their moral worth.

III. Values Associated with Adulthood

A. Rationalism. The truth is, and it is knowable by humans. It is one; just as God is One.12

12) It is knowable by any of the twin avenues of reason and revelation, since the object of both is one and the same, namely, the will of God which is knowable as the divine patterns of creation, in the realms of nature, of the psyche, of society, of ethical religious and aesthetic consciousness.13

13) No contradiction between reason and revelation is ultimate.

14) Wherever contradiction occurs, it is our understanding of either the data of revelation, or the data of nature, that is at fault, necessitating re-examination. All humans are entitled know the truth; and no censorship or restriction may be imposed by anyone.

15) All humans are hence entitled to inquire, to search, to learn and to teach one another. Human society is a school on grand scale where everyone is student and teacher at the same time.14 Ideological or thoroughgoing skepticism is the inseparable twin of cynicism. It is false, and a defiance of God.

16) No one may promote it to destroy the tradition of human knowledge and wisdom, though questions may always be asked to increase that legacy.15 No one may prevent anybody from appropriating it or contributing to its growth.

B. Life and World Affirmation. God has created life and the world for good purpose.16 Life must therefore be lived and the world developed. Instincts ought to be satisfied and happiness sought and achieved. Talents, faculties and potentialities, ought to be realized and the result must be the building and growth of culture and civilization.17

17) Fulfillment of self as well as of creation is indeed a divine purpose established that humans, in their pursuit of it, do the good deeds which actualize the moral values, i.e., the higher part of the divine will. Conversely, no human may destroy life and the world, or subvert culture or civilization. Cynicism is a denial of the divine purpose of creation and action based upon it is a defiance of the Creator Himself (SWT).

C. Freedom. The liberty to know and to think (mind), to judge and to choose (heart), to act or not to act (arm), belongs universally and necessarily to all humans.18 Coercion in any form, except as imposed by law, is a civil and religious offense, punishable in this world as well as in the next.

D. Egalitarianism.

18) As creatures of God, all humans are absolutely equal in their relation to Him, to His providence and justice, His love and mercy as well as to His judgement in this world and in the next.19

19) Their equal creatureliness is the corollary of His unity and transcendence. Differentiation among them is legitimate only when it is based upon individual effort and merit.20

20) On the other hand, racism, chosenness, or any discrimination on the basis of religion, race, colour, language, ethnicity, descendence geography or history, is evil prohibited by God and a threat to His unity and transcendence.

E. Ummatism. Belonging to an ummah or society is a fact of nature and a divine pattern. All humans are members of one ummah or another.

21) While no human may turn his back to, and dissociate himself from society as such, each is free to associate with, or dissociate from any group or ummah. To this end, humans are free to communicate and assemble with one another, to build such institutions as would promote and express such association.21

F. Responsibility. Except minors and the legally-declared insane, all humans are mukallafun; i.e., responsible before God and the law, each within his/her sphere of influence. Both men and women are responsible for the welfare of their dependents, relatives, and neighbors, according to the prescriptions of the shari’ah if they are Muslims, and to millah law if otherwise.22

22) They are responsible for their contracts and covenants;23

23) for fulfillment of established customs.24

24) All duties incumbent upon the collectivity of Muslims become personal duties incumbent upon every adult individually, wherever and whenever the collectivity fails to carry them out.25

25) It is both the right and the duty of every member of the ummah, of every citizen of the Islamic state, to bring court action against any violation of the shari’ah; and it is the duty of society to support such an initiative and protect its author.

G. Universalism. Humans were created to form an open society, where action is meant to actualize the divine patterns.26 This is an open competition which any human may enter without conditions.

26) Any person or group may join this society, fulfill its functions, rise in hierarchy or achieve in its arena all that personal qualification, self-exertion and effort make possible.

27) Righteous achievement of the individual person is the only basis of merit. All humans have the right to reside wherever they choose, to change their residences at will.27

28) Equally, they are entitled to transport their wealth and goods wherever they wish, to join or secede from the ummah of their birth.28 Muslims may not secede from their ummah and continue to reside in the Islamic state.29

IV. Values Associated with Economic Activity

29) All wealth belongs to Allah (SWT) who made everything in creation subservient to man.30

30) If they have acquired it legally, humans are the trustees and stewards of it, entitled to its usufruct and enjoyment without limits. No property may be expropriated without legitimate cause and equitable compensation. No one may prevent another from drawing benefit from God’s bounty in any amount.31

31) Property may be owned privately, corporately or publicly. It may not be destroyed or abused. Likewise, no one may make a misrepresentation in business transactions or cheat, steal, or rob another of his/her wealth.32

32) None may hoard or monopolize any commodity for the purpose of “cornering the market” and raising prices artificially.33

33) None may lend more on interest, or share the profits without sharing the risks.34 The benefits accruing from public property should devolve to all citizens according to their needs.

34) All humans are entitled to employment, and all employment should earn enough to support the workers and their dependents throughout life, according to a clearly defined and agreeable minimum standard of living.35

35) Equal works should earn equal pay in all cases. All humans are entitled to their savings and their private properties. They may give their wealth as gifts or pass it to their descendants according to the inheritance laws of their ummah.36

36) The orphans, the poor and the destitute are entitled to the assistance of society in such measure as would guarantee the minimum standard of living.

V. Values Associated with Political Activity

Islam regards decision-making as a process determined by the principle of shura, or participation of ruler and ruled together. Participation in the political life of the ummah or world state of Islam, is not only a basic human right, but a religious duty.

37) This participation Islam directs, should express itself in the selection and appointment of the ruler37, in obedience to and monitoring of the ruler’s exercise of power, in giving the ruler the benefit of warning and advice and in impeaching and/or removing the ruler from office in case of failure.38

38) Ruler and government are expected to fulfill the shari’ah and actualize the vision of Islam.

39) These are not only “official” duties of the ruler and members of the administration, but personal religious and civil duties incumbent upon all individuals in case the ruler and government fail to realize them.39 While Islam abhors any discrimination between the citizens of the Islamic state in public service based on anything but personal competence and merit, its ethic forbids the Muslim to seek public office, expecting public servants to be sought and elected or appointed by their fellows. Self-nomination and promotion are condemned.40

40) Islam regards political office as a sacred trust placed in the candidate most capable of fulfilling the ideal of Islam relevant to that office. Islam regards a human as entitled to live under the Pax Islamica — the jurisdiction of the Islamic state — if they so wish, regardless of whether or not they are Muslims; and to exit therefrom, otherwise.41 In the former case, they have to abide by the laws or institutions of their millah, or faith-community.42

41) Islamic law will not apply to them unless they themselves request such application. No human may be arrested or interned except under the laws of his millah or under criminal laws of the shari’ah; and none may be subject to harassment or invasion of privacy by government officers.43 No ruler or government may command the citizens anything that violates the shari’ah. Wherever this happens, the government loses its right to be obeyed, and to oppose it becomes the duty of the citizens. Wherever there is departure from the shari’ah, no obedience is due.

VI. Values Associated with Social Activity

42) All humans are entitled to marry and raise a family; to exercise control over their children and to acculturate them into their own traditions. The family in its extended form is the basic unit constitutive of society.44 Its formation, constitution, and the rights and duties of its members toward one another are all defined and girded by the shari’ah. All may choose and associate with their friends; and may assemble for any purpose without permission. All humans are entitled to have their public morals protected by the state and their moral/religious sensitivities safeguard against offence by any person or agency. All humans are entitled to the protection of their persons and properties by their neighbors, against any damage, and all have the duty to stop their neighbors’ aggression against any other’s person or property.

43) All humans have the right to identify with the ummah whose ideology represents their personal convictions, to lead their lives in ways which they determine as most consonant with that ideology, to express that ideology in theoretical, actional or esthetic form, and to order their life and leisure as the ideology dictates. They are entitled to build and maintain such social and cultural institutions as their culture and its creative development demand.

44) They are entitled to help and support one another if they suffer injustice, and to prevent same before its occurrence whether themselves or others. Men and women are full legal persons and equal in all matters affecting their lives.45

45) Both sexes are entitled to the names and identities given to them at birth, to equal education and full exercise of all religious, cultural, moral, social, economic, and political rights and duties under the law. In matters of support and inheritance, and in some cases of legal witness, Muslim men and women are not equal.46

VII. Values Associated with Judicial Activity

46) All humans are equal before the law; the rulers and the ruled, the rich and the poor, the black and the white, the Muslim and non-Muslim. All humans have the right to arbitrate their disputes among themselves or have them adjudicated by the courts under the shari’ah.47

47) If they are Muslims, under their millah-law otherwise. They have the right and the duty to defend one another before a court, to give witness, to enjoin the good, to prohibit and prevent evil.48

48) The best witness is one given before it is asked for. No human may be tried in absentia or without hearing of defence.49

49) No one may be commanded or coerced to counter the shari’ah.50

50) Every human is presumed innocent and treated as such until proven guilty in a court of law.51 No person may be indicted except under the shari’ah, which pluralistically includes the millah-laws; and none may be condemned or punished beyond its prescriptions.

51) No one may be held responsible for the crime committed by another except in the case of a minor or a person under guardianship.52

52) And no one may be tortured or put under duress to give witness or information under any circumstances.53 All matters flowing out of coercion, cheating or spying are null and void, and inadmissible as part of any legal process.

VIII. Values Associated with International Activity

53) All humans, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, citizen or non-citizen resident or non-resident of the Islamic state, individuals or groups, are entitled to enter into a covenant of peace, mutual security and friendly relation with the Islamic state. Any human may plead any case in its shari’ah courts, seek and obtain permission to reside, to work and trade in peace and security within the Islamic state.

54) In case the non-citizen, non-resident is a Muslim, the shari’ah would apply to him/her in all its provisions; in case of the non-Muslim, the laws of his/her millah will apply. In no case may such a person be treated differently from the citizens.

55) Every human being is entitled to hear the message of Islam without exception; and it is the duty of the ummah to present it.55 No one may prevent the message from being heard.The Islamic state has the duty to remove such obstacles or “iron curtains” by any means at its disposal.56

56) Besides this, the preservation of freedom to hear the word of God, to consider and to judge according to one’s best conscience, no cause justifies recourse of force except in the repulsion of an actual aggressor. No group or people or nation may ridicule another or deride its faith and tradition. A fortioti, no group, people or nation may aggress upon another. Inter-group disputes may be solved only through arbitration or judicial procedure in a court of law. The Islamic state and all nations ought to support the victims of aggression and to redress the injustices committed, even if this requires the taking up of arms against the aggressor nation.57

57) All persecuted humans (not those running away from justice) have the right to take refuge in the Islamic state. And the Islamic state is duty-bound to extend its protection to them.58

IX. Values Associated with Death

58) All humans are entitled to medical care throughout life and to special care in their old age. If they have no young dependents to care for them, society is obliged to do so in a way which safeguards their mental and social health as well as their personal dignity. Humans are all entitled to free and proper burial according to their millah laws.59


59) The human rights and obligations which Islam recognizes constitute a humanism in which man is not the measure of all the thing as Protagoras had thought. God or His will is indeed such a measure. Islam rejects the tragic Promethean view in which man defies God, steals the fire from Him, and ends like the Greek and German gods in eternal doom. It equally rejects the Christian view in which man is fallen and helpless, hopeless except for a God messiah to pull him out of his tragic predicament. But it commends Christianity and its adherent for their humility, their love and concern for humanity. It equally rejects the Hindu Upanishadic and Buddhist Theravadic view that life and existence are an aberration of the Absolute or an evil to be surmounted by withdrawal and meditative processes. Finally Islam rejects all ethnocentrist views of humanity and the world, especially that of Judaism. But it commends Judaism and its adherents for their tenacity in upholding the absolute unity and transcendence of God.

Islam acknowledges man to be the vicegerent of God, fully endowed, free and responsible to realize his cosmic function, and thereby to deserve his eternal bliss or doom. Moreover, Islam’s humanism under God is not a mere philosophy, a system of values advocated by culture alone. Islam’s humanism under God is law known to all, backed by sanctions and the authority of the Islamic state, and promulgated equally for its citizens as well as others, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.

Related articles
Review of "Islam in the Modern National State" by Erwin I. J. Rosenthal

On the Nature of Islamic Da'wah

Islam and Christianity: Diatribe or Dialogue?

Why Islam?

Da'wah in the West: Promise and Trial


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1.The Prophet (SAAS) said: Every human is born innocent (‘ala al-fitrah). His parents make him adhere to one religious tradition or other (i.e., man’s historical religiocultural personality is acquired and not necessary).[back]
2.The Qur’an reported Adam’s sin; but it affirmed that his sin was his own; that he repented and was forgiven. (Qur’an 2:36-37).

The Qur’an also affirms that no soul will get any more or any less than it has earned (Qur’an 3:25); that no person is responsible for the guilt of another, or may intercede on another’s behalf (Qur’an 2:48): that guilt is not transferable (Qur’an 6:164); that no atom’s weight of good or evil will be lost in the final reckoning on the Day of judgement (Qur’an 99:7-8). Allah who created everything perfect (Qur’an 32:7); “We created man in the best of forms” (Qur’an 95:4) God then perfected man, breathed into him of His own spirit. God gave man his hearing, his sight and heart, as faculties of cognition and knowledge (Qur’an 32:9)[back]

3.“Turn yourselves to the primordial religion, as a hanif; to the natural religion innate and absolutely the same in all humans. That is the only true and worth religion” (Qur’an 30:30). Add to these verses the ubiquitous admonition to reason, to consider, to think, to judge, to compare and contrast, to seek the truth, to choose the right guidance.[back]
4.“O People! We created you all of a single pair of male and female; and We have constituted you into tribes and nations that you may identify one another. The worthier in the eye of God is the more righteous.” (Qur’an 49:13).[back]
5.“Unless in retaliation for the killing of another person or in punishment for spreading evil, whoever kills a person has killed the whole of humanity; and whoever gives life to a person has done so to the whole of humanity.” (Qur’an 5:32)[back]
6.“We (God) offered Our trust to heaven and earth and mountains. They all rejected it, in fear of its burden. But man accepted and carried it.” (Qur’an 33:72)[back]
7.“And when thy Lord said to the angels, I plan to establish a vicegerent for Myself on earth, the angels asked, Would you establish on earth a creature that sheds blood and spreads evil while we constantly glorify and adore You? God said: I have designed a plan [for humanity on earth] which you do not know.” (Qur’an 2:30).[back]
8.“And We commanded the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam, and they did.” (Qur’an 2:34); “We have ennobled and cherished humankind, enabled them to traverse land and sea, provided them with all good things, and granted them priority over many other creatures.” (Qur’an 17:70).[back]
9.Islamic law condemns adultery in the strongest terms; but it is most considerate to the children of adulterous unions, whom it regards as innocent of their parents’ crime. It prescribes their acquisition of the father’s name, if known, as legitimate and rightful in all cases. “(Allah) did not make your adopted sons (truly) your sons. That is only your empty claim, whereas Allah says the truth and guides to it. Give them the names of their real parents; that is more just in Allah’s judgement. And if their parents are utterly unknown, then regard them as your clients, but always as your brothers in religion.” (Qur’an 33:4-5). [back]
10.In the case of children devoid of parents or relatives to assume these duties, the shari’ah imposes these duties upon the Islamic state and regards the chief of state or khalifah personally responsible for the welfare and Islamic upbringing of such children.[back]
11.The Prophet (SAAS) decreed that the pursuit of knowledge is a duty for every Muslim man and woman.[back]
12.“Rather, it is Allah indeed that is the Truth” (Qur’an 22:6). “And proclaim, O Muhammad, the truth has come and is now manifest. Falsehood has been confuted; for it deserves to be so.” (Qur’an 17:81).[back]
13.“Heaven and earth are full of patterns of Allah for the believers to grasp. In the creation of man as well as in that of every creature Allah has created, there are patterns to be perceived by those who are convinced.” (Qur’an 45:3-4). “We shall present to them our patterns in the horizons as well as within themselves (in their consciousness) until they realize that this is indeed the truth.” (Qur’an 41:53).[back]
14.Say, O Muhammad: My Lord Who knows all things, challenges with the truth. Say, the truth has now become manifest. The opposite of truth has nothing to stand upon and is devoid of effect or power. Say, if I fall into error, it is my deed, my personal responsibility (Qur’an 34: 48-50).[back]
15.“Truth and wisdom have become manifest. They are different from falsehood and straying.” (Qur’an 2:256). The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Whomsoever God wishes to bless, He causes him to acquire knowledge.”[back]
16.“Does man think that he has been created in vain?” (Qur’an 75:36).[back]
17.“The righteous are those who examine and ponder over the creation of heaven and earth and exclaim in conclusion: O God You have not created all this in vain.” (Qur’an 3:191).[back]
18.“There shall be no coercion in religion.” (Qur’an 2: 256) “Whoever wishes to believe, let him do so; and whoever wishes to disbelieve, let him do so likewise.” (Qur’an 18:29).[back]
19.Supra, note 4. On his last pilgrimage, the Prophet (SAAS) said in his sermon at ‘Arafat: All of you issue from Adam, and Adam issued from dust. No Arab has any priority over a non-Arab, no black over a white, and no non-Arab over an Arab and no white over a black — except in righteousness.[back]
20.Supra, note 4. To everyone a place will be assigned corresponding to the merit of his deeds (Qur’an 6:83). The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Were Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad himself, to commit theft, I would impose upon her God’s sanction of having her hand cut off.”[back]
21.“Let there be of you an ummah calling to the good deed, enjoining the acts of righteousness and prohibiting those of evil. Felicitous is such an ummah.” (Qur’an 3:104).[back]
22.The Prophet (SAAS) said: Everyone of you is a shepherd, responsible for his flock.[back]
23.“Fulfill your covenants perfectly; for to covenant is to commit oneself responsibly.” (Qur’an 17:34). “Felicitous are those believers who keep their promises and fulfill what they have committed themselves to do.” (Qur’an 70:32).[back]
24.Supra, note 21. “Take the side of forgiveness and enjoin that which is right” (Qur’an 7:199).[back]
25.The shari’ah distinguishes the fard ‘ayn (personal duty) from the fard kifayah (collective duty). But it prescribes the automatic transformation of any collective duty unto a personal one wherever and whenever the collective has failed to fulfill that duty.[back]
26.“And if those whom you call to Allah turn away from this cause, Allah will exchange them for another people who will be otherwise.” (Qur’an 47:38).[back]
27.“No man may receive credit except for what he himself had wrought. His accomplishments must indeed be shown, and he must be rewarded accordingly.” (Qur’an 53:39-41).[back]
28.“Is not Allah’s earth wide enough to accommodate all?” (Qur’an 4:97) “And the earth has He spread out for living creatures.” (Qur’an 55:10) “Allah has made the earth subservient to you, O humankind, strike out then into the world and seek of Allah’s bounty.” (Qur’an 67:15).[back]
29.This principle of the shari’ah if often misunderstood to imply discrimination between Muslims and non-Muslims. That non-Muslims may change their religion and join the Muslim ummah, and Muslims may not to convert to other religions and join their respective ummah, is alleged to constitute such illegitimate discrimination. The fact, however, is otherwise. The shari’ah holds all humans free to choose their religious affiliations, to enter into and exit from any religious denominations, including Islam. What it condemns is exit from political affiliation with the ummah or the Islamic state while continuing to reside within its territory. Since affiliation to the religion of Islam is ipso facto affiliation to the Islamic state and the ummah it is not conceivable to exit from the one without exiting from the other. Exit from the religion is a religious matter in which personal freedom is guaranteed for all. But exit from the ummah is at once an exit from citizenship, or loyalty to, the Islamic state. No state can or does tolerate anybody’s self-exoneration from loyalty to itself while continuing to affirm one’s citizenship or residence in that state. Such loyalty is a conditio sine qua non on residence or citizenship. That is why Islamic law has treated exit from Islam as tantamount to exit from state, and therefore necessitating either physical separation from the territory of the Islamic state or prosecution as if it were treason. Naturally, the Muslim who converts to another religion, secedes from the ummah and exits from the Islamic state is not only safe because the jurisdiction of Islamic law does not reach him; neither the ummah nor the Islamic state has any claim against him.[back]
30.“Do you not know that to Allah alone dominion of heaven and earth?” (Qur’an 2:107); “Do you not see that Allah has made subservient to you everything in heaven and earth and showered His blessings upon you?” (Qur’an 31:20)[back]
31.“So strike out into the earth and seek the bounty of God therein.” (Qur’an 62:10); “There are no restrictions on the bounty of your Lord.” (Qur’an 17:20) The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Whoever appropriates something of the earth without due title, will be thrown on the Day of Judgement into the seventh lowest level.”[back]
32.“Woe to the fraudulent! Who exact full measure when they receive but cheat when it is their turn to give.” (Qur’an 83:1-3); “Whether male or female, the hand of the thieves shall be cut off in retribution from Allah for their misdeed.” (Qur’an 5:38) The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Whoever deals with fraudulence is not a Muslim.”[back]
33.“As to those who pile up their wealth of gold and silver, who do not spend it in the cause of God, warn them of sure and dire punishment.” (Qur’an 9:34); The Prophet said: “Every monopolist is a sinner.”[back]
34.“Allah has made trade or buying and selling legitimate; but He has prohibited the collection of interest” (Qur’an 2:275); “Those who collect interest are like those possessed by Satan” (ibid).[back]
35.“Felicitous are those who recognize a right to the destitute and the deprived to a share in their wealth” (Qur’an 70: 24-25). The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Give the employee his wages before his sweat has had time to dry…God honors the believer who practices a profession.” In another hadith the Prophet (SAAS) reported that Allah (SWT), will prosecute mercilessly anyone who cheats a worker out of his wages.[back]
36.“The inheritance should be divided after satisfaction of a debt due and the fulfillment of a willed gift” (Qur’an 4:11).[back]
37.The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Those who die without having participated in the election of one caliph or political officer pass away as non-Muslim.”[back]
38.Upon his election to the caliphate, Abu Bakr (Radiya Allahu ‘Anh [RAA] May God bless him) said: “If I govern well, you should help me. If I govern badly, you should correct me….It is your duty to obey me only so long as I obey God and His Prophet. Were I to disobey them, you owe me no more obedience” (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat al- Nabiyy (SAAS) edited by M. M. D. Abdul Hamid, Cairo: M. Subayh, 1383/1963, Vol. IV, p. 1075. Allah (SWT) described the felicitous believers as those who conduct their affairs in consultation among themselves (Qur’an 42:38).[back]
40.“Do not therefore nominate or praise yourselves.” (Qur’an 53:32).[back]
41.This was one of the distinctive features of the constitution of the Islamic state, the first written statement constitution in history. It was dictated by the Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) in 622 A.C. on the very first day of the Hijrah, or his arrival to Madinah in that year, and on account of which that day was declared the beginning of the Islamic era. The constitution decreed as legitimate and indeed constitutive of the Islamic state, the Jewish ummah, with its religion and institutions and laws. Later, the same principle was applied to the Christians by the Prophet himself (SAAS), and following in his footsteps, the Muslims later applied it to Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and adherents of all other religions who had either lived in the Islamic state or entered therewith into a covenant of peace! This was responsible for the creation of a novel system of organization, the first pluralistic society — wherein several religious communities live in peace under the aegis of a professedly ideological (Islamic) state. Moreover, this Islamic pluralism is not one of a few constitutionally guaranteed basic human rights, but a legitimization of all the laws — religious, social, political, cultural, economic, criminal, procedural — governing any non-Muslim society which opts for the Pax Islamica, the world-order of Islam. Thus, the non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic state may order their lives as their religious and cultural traditions; and their own courts of law are backed by the Islamic state, for the enforcement of their own laws.

“In their possession is the Torah wherein is the law of God” (Qur’an 5:43); “As to the People of the Evangel [the Christians], let them rule themselves by what God has revealed therein.” (Qur’an 42:38).[back]

42.Islam stands for the closest solidarity and mutual security of humans with one another (see Qur’an 90:12-18). Condemning the others, the Qur’an affirmed: “They did not prohibit one another from committing their evil deeds. Accursed indeed was their conduct” (Qur’an 5:79). The shari’ah is not satisfied to recommend neighborly love in a general matter, but has established a number of duties which a person must observe toward the neighbour: and it declared failure and neglect to observe them subject to sanction.[back]
43.See this author’s “The Rights of Non-Muslims under Islam: Social and Cultural Aspects”, Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. I, No. 1 (Summer, 1979), pp. 90-102.[back]
44.“It is indeed Allah’s pattern that He has created of yourselves spouses in whom to find quiescence; that He established between you the pattern of mutual love and compassion. Such are the patterns of Allah that those capable of reasoning may ponder over and consider” (Qur’an 30:21). The Prophet (SAAS) commanded Muslims to marry and procreate. Willed celibacy is condemned in Islam, as is monkery (Qur’an 57:27).[back]
45.The shari’ah was first in human history to recognize woman as a legal person, fully endowed to perform all legal functions. This was the consequence of Islam’s rehabilitation of woman, its denial of the Christian myth of Eve as temptress and source of evil, as cause of original sin and of the fall of humankind, and its affirmation of equal rights and duties as belonging to her. “Allah will not lose count of a single deed whether committed by man or woman. For men and women are equally members of one another (of society)” (Qur’an 3:195).[back]
46.In order to guarantee woman’s dignity and gird her person against abuse, Islam prescribed that woman is always entitled to the support of her father, guardian, husband or nearest male relative, regardless of her wealth. Islam thus exonerated all women from having to earn their livelihood and be subject to the degradation usually accompanying a woman in want. Nonetheless, woman is free to work and add to her personal income if she wishes and has the requisite talent and competence. Somewhat to balance this favourable position in the economic life of society, Islam assigned to the male heir double the share of the female. The charge commonly levelled against Islam as unfair to women usually omits from consideration men’s obligation to support all their women relatives and concentrates on the half-share in her parents’ inheritance assigned her. In fact, Islam is biased in favor of woman and seeks her protection and welfare at all times. Another charge against Islam refers to the refusal of the shari’ah court to consider woman’s witness as equal to a man’s; but this too is a misunderstanding. Being intended for the millions rather than the exception, and assuming the patriarchal family as the basic social unit, the shari’ah regarded a woman’s witness as the full equal of man’s in cases of legitimacy, descendence and family relations – the area with which most women are indeed familiar – but only half of man’s witness in cases of civil, administration, and criminal laws, with which she is usually not knowledgeable.[back]
47.“If you dispute with one another on any matter, refer it to Allah and His Prophet for adjudication” (Qur’an 4:59); “O Muhammad, Adjudicate their disputes by that which Allah has revealed, and do not follow their desires” (Qur’an 4:49). See also Qur’anic quotations at end of fn. 41 supra.[back]
48.The ethic deterring Muslim conduct in this regard is based firstly upon the Qur’anic verse:

“Let there be of you an ummah which calls to the good, which enjoins the acts of righteousness, prohibits the acts of injustice and evil. Such are the felicitous” (Qur’an 3:104). Secondly Muslim commandment towards the neighbor is determined by the Prophet’s commandment: “Whoever witnesses an injustice or evil, let him redress it with his own hand. If he cannot, let him do so with his tongue. And if he cannot, with his heart; but that is the weakest faith.”[back]

49.“Conjecture is no substitute for true knowledge” (Qur’an 53:28); “Do not spy on one another; nor talk evil about another in his absence” (Qur’an 49:12). The Prophet (SAAS) said: “If the evil you tell about your neighbor in his absence is true, you have committed a sin. If it is false, a double sin.” He further said: “Whoever is sued in court for a right violated must be heard.”[back]
50.Supra, fn. 38.[back]
51.“These are the sanctions of God. Never go beyond them” (Qur’an 2:229). The Prophet (SAAS) commanded: “Avoid applying the sanctions of the law wherever there is any degree of doubt.”[back]
52.In such cases, the responsibility of the guardian is to compensate the victim for the damage or loss of sustained. Otherwise, no one is responsible but for his/her own action. Allah (SWT) proclaimed: “Every person is responsible but for what he had wrought” (Qur’an 52:21).[back]
53.“Even a little suspicion is a crime” (Qur’an 49:12); “To harm the Believers, whether man or woman, by ascribing to them what they have not done, is to commit a grave and perfidious crime” (Qur’an 33:58).[back]
54.This is perhaps the greatest breakthrough in international relations ever achieved, namely, that any individual or group — not only sovereign nations — are entitled to enter into the international arena as full legitimate contenders, defendants or participants. They can conclude covenants or treaties and be responsible for their fulfillment. Since its inception in 622, the Islamic state opened itself to anyone or any group desiring to enter into a legitimate relation with it for any purpose, and empowered all its courts-of-law to deal with any dispute arising out of such agreements. Like any other legal person, the Islamic state regarded itself as neither too shy to invite and enter into such relations, nor too proud to plead in any first-instance court if its agreement was violated. Indeed, under the shari’ah the court-of-law is a public institution which any human may enter and use to bring about equity and justice to any person or interest under the jurisdiction of the Islamic state. Non-citizen transient residents may even challenge the action of the chief of state.[back]
55.Calling humans to God is a permanent personal duty for every Muslim man and woman. Allah ta’ala commanded (Qur’an 16:125) See next footnote.[back]
56.This was the cause of all the wars of conquest which took place in the first century of Muslim history. The state sent missionaries to present Islam to the ruler and the ruled. Where they were well-received — regardless of whether or not their efforts led to any conversions, the relation between their nation and the Islamic state remained good, and that national entered into the “house of peace” with its political, social, economic and religious structures intact. Where the missionaries were killed, the state was forced to mobilize and march against the offenders.

“Those who rise to redress an injustice perpetrated against them, and achieve victory, are not blameworthy for what they do in course of their action” (Qur’an 42:41); “Felicitous are those who, when We establish their dominions on earth, uphold the salat, pay the zakat, enjoin the good deeds and prohibit the evil” (Qur’an 22:41); “Call unto the path of your Lord with wisdom and goodly counsel. Argue with them with the more comely arguments” (Qur’an 16:125); “Say: O People of the Book! Come now to a noble principle common to both of us, that we worship none but God; that we associate naught with Him; and that we take not one another as lords beside God” (Qur’an 3:64).[back]

57.“If any two factions among the believers quarrel together, reconcile them. If one transgresses the terms of peace, then fight ye all against the transgressor till he complies. When he does, reconcile them again in justice and fairness” (Qur’an 49:9).[back]
58.“And if any polytheist asks for your protection, grant it to him that he may hear the word of God. Then escort him safely to his refuge” (Qur’an 9:6).[back]
59.The Prophet (SAAS) commanded: “When your neighbour dies, it is your duty to prepare his remains for burial and do so well to their Creator who will judge them according to their deeds.”[back]


Sacramento's Pakistani Americans declare war on terrorism

Three ways of looking at the situation;

As Muslims we need to continue to remain alert, if we have an inkling of some one who 'wishes' to hurt another being, it is our religious duty to pounce on him/her and stop it at once unequivocally. The Qur'aan says saving one life is like saving the whole humanity. The only sin God does not forgive is shirk, that is assigning some one to do God's job; one of them is to give life and take life. This is where we need to do our Jihad, to prevent a Bin Laden or another idiot to take over God's job. This is Shirk, unforgivable by God.

Continued: http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2010/05/pakistani-americans-declare-war-on.html

Thursday, May 6, 2010

TODAY IS NATIONAL PRAYER DAY Let’s pray, reflect or wish;

TODAY IS NATIONAL PRAYER DAY Let's pray, reflect or wish;

Dear God, guide us do the right thing every moment of our lives.
Dear God, guide us open our hearts and minds to fellow beings;
Dear God, guide us the humility to respect your creation.
Dear God, guide us shed the arrogance in us that we are superior,
Dear God, guide us learn to respect and accept every which way one worships you.
Dear God, guide us to become conflict mitigators
Dear God, guide us to become good will nurturers
Dear God, guide to us create the kingdom of heaven for every one of the 7 billion of us


Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer and an activist of Pluralism, Justice, Islam, India and Civil Societies. He is a conflict mitigater and a goodwill nurturer offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

National Prayer Day happenings on Thursday

An examination of different types of Prayers and Prayer happenings in Dallas Fort Worth followed by a Dinner event on Friday. Please note that a healthy change has occurred in the last few years due to the collective efforts of the community, there was a time when other denominations and faiths were excluded, but that is history now and Thank God for the inclusionary, pluralistic attitudes of Priests, Rabbis, Imams, Pastors, Pundits, Shamans and religious leaders across the world.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ghouse speaks at Dallas Mega Immigration March

May 1, 2010. "If you cannot stand up for the rights of others, why should any one stand up for you?" It was an honor to be among 10 civil rights leaders of Dallas to lead the March.


Good Afternoon, I am standing here today because a lady by the name Rosa Parks stood up for her rights and her right to be treated with dignity.

I am standing here today as an immigrant because some one gave up his life to bring civil rights to America and it was this singular act that caused all of us immigrants to be here in America to enrich our nation.

Continued at: http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2010/05/ghouse-speaks-at-dallas-mega-march-2010.html


Email to: SpeakerMikeGhouse@gmail.com

Voice of Moderate Muslims

Voice of Moderate Muslims
Voice of Moderate Muslims

Moderate Islam Speaker

Moderate Islam Speaker
Moderate Islam Speaker

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 (www.UnitydayUSA.com) 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.

URL- http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/08/planned-muslim-response-to-quran_18.html

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.