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Modi remarks: Dr. Sen has spoken like a true statesman

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 July 2013 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

It was exciting to read a part of the interview of Dr. Sen about 10:30 PM tonight, Friday the 26th of July 2013. The rest of the interview will be published by Times of India on Sunday.

Most people appreciate when some one speaks out against the atrocities of the majorities, powerful dictators, monarchs and bullies. The politically motivated Hindu, Muslim and Christian men and women in particular appreciate it, if it favors them.

My Hindus friends have rejoiced every time I have routinely stood up for them, but won't appreciate if a Hindu Dr. Amartya Sen does the same.

Let me assure you this, the good people outnumber all others 95:5, eventually some one or the other from the majority, be it in India, America, Bolivia or South Africa, and even from Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Christians and Buddhist speaks up for the rights of the deprived, disadvantaged, women, minorities and the weak. God of all creation makes sure his creation has boundaries and has enough peace makers to prevent the world from total annihilation. Bhagvad Gita is clear, "Whenever there is adharma, God will bring about some one to restore Dharma" and Quran beefs it up, "To every tribe, every community and every nation God sends his peace makers to keep peace."

Indeed the work of all religious masters and great statesmen was to build cohesive societies, where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. India is going through big controversy now about the kind of leadership it wants. Nobel Laureate Dr. Amratya Sen is under attack. Narendra Modi is the contentious Chief Minister (Like Governor) of Gujarat in India.

Dr. Sen has spoken like a true statesman, an India that belongs to all Indians, I found the expressions of a similar language in my writings. Indeed whether it was Zarthustra, Moses, Krishna, Buddha and the others - the message was same - how to live without fear of the other.

The more people speak up, the better the world would be. So, please do your part.

This morning I defended Dr. Sen’s action with a few friends (appended below) and now, when I read the partial interview, it caused me to go searching on my blog of the similar thoughts I have struggled with.

Dr. Amartya Sen with Mike Ghouse
I have consistently advocated that the peace is the responsibility of the majority; indeed, the civility of a nation is determined by how it treats its women, children, disadvantage, the weak and the minorities. It is in the interest of the nation, particularly the responsible men and women from the political, civic or religious majorities to speak up. It is in everyone's interest for every one to walk well together and not limp.Two of the statements, I wrote resonate with Dr. Amartya Sen’s words

On March 15, 2013, a press release was sent and was published in Bangladeshi News papers and at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com, this was also a part of my speech at Bangladesh Human rights organization in Dallas.

“The success of a nation depends when her citizens feel secure; in this case, it is the duty of the state to ensure the safety of Hindus, Buddhist, Shia, Ahmadiyya, Christian and other minorities.

It is also the obligation of the Bangladeshi majority to continue to speak up against the brutal treatment of fellow Bangladeshis who are Hindu. Indeed, the safety of a community is the responsibility of the majority.”

The Daily Times of Pakistan published my piece on Imran Khan, and I wrote, “Humanity in general and Muslims in particular are guided to stand up for justice. Only the civility of majority can change things. Minorities do not have a voice in Pakistan and they live on with apprehensions. The Hindu parents worry when their daughter will be abducted and forced to convert or when the Ahmadiyya girl student will be kicked out of school or their graves are desecrated, Shias ordered out of the bus and shot point blank and Christians will be framed with blasphemy charges. Societies are judged by how they treat their minorities, women and children. Good Pakistanis are letting bad things happen in their names.”

A note came from a friend, “What irked me was his (Dr. Sen) comment on Modi not doing enough for the minorities.” And, “Sen does not address those issue but more interested in bad mouthing Modi on minority issues because it is a very popular and sophisticated issue.”

My response was, “I must add that collectively different Indians have to speak on different topics - including far and against to bring different angles to the fore - Dr. Sen has picked one that he probably feels has not been given enough attention. Each one of us has to focus on many strands of democracy.”

Glad to see a positive response about democracy from my friend later.

If there were to be an apology, the apology is owed to the families of people who were burnt alive in the train, families of the people who were raped, families of children who were burnt alive on every street corner, family of the MP who was tortured to death, and all the families who were uprooted for improper management of the law and order in the state. And that apology must come from the Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

[Mike Ghouse is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at MikeGhouse@aol.com]

Tippu Sultan - India's brave king against the mighty British empire

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 08 May 2013 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

I am honored to be a part of the History of the state of Karnataka, and a recipient of one of the two brass busts of Tippu Sultan made on the 200th commemoration. I am glad to be a part of the history, but I am not history yet.

Tippu Sultan's vision of India was Swaraj (self rule) not British Raj. He was killed in the 4th war of Mysore against the British on this day, May 4th 1799. History records that his confidant and assistant leaked the information to the British about Tippu’s whereabouts and that’s how the native kingdom fell to the colonists.

On the bi-centennial commemoration of his death in 1999, two brass busts were made. One is with former Prime Minister Deve Gowda, then Chief Minister Deve Gowda, and other one was presented to me by Dr. Range Gowda, an expert on Tippu Sultan and author of many books.
Indeed, when my father was running for the City council, it was festivity at our home, the public address systems (we called it loud speakers then) were set and Lavani (folk singing in Kannada Language) were sung, how Poornayya, Tippu’s deputy betrayed him. I am trying to recall that in Kannada with failures. My father was also elected Mayor of the city back in 1952, and he was elected on the day I was born or vice-versa.

Tippu was a secular King in the times when it was not a common thing. Dr. Gowda's research is an eye opener. Unfortunately, a few right wingers in India have maligned him for the excesses’ done by his fanatic deputies in Kerala and Mangalore, where they forced Hindus and Christians to convert to Islam. On the contrary, Tippu granted lands to build temples, and he defended the Sringeri Matt (Hindu Sanctuary) from attacks from Marathas, and has protected the Ranganatha Temple in Srirangapatna. Indeed, the first Christian church in the state was built in Mysore City with a land grant from Tippu Sultan that was before the British invaded. His deputy Poornayya was a Hindu.

In a free society, falsities come with the facts, and we have to live with it. I have been to all his places. Indeed his Toop Khana - the artillery depot sat next to my house in Yelahanka, the wall of our house joined the wall of Tippu's depot known as Chattra now - where they conduct weddings, and my sister’s wedding was conducted in it and my best friend Jaichand Sugalchand Sajjanraj Jain’s wedding was also conducted there.

When I was a kid, I messed with everything my Dad did, in front of our house, while digging for a wall, I jumped into the trench to dig foundation with axe, boom, one hit, and there was a massive hole. I screamed and came out of the trench, later it took truck loads of dirt to fill it in. and they said it was Tippu's tunnel. No one verified or reported that to anyone. Unfortunately that is not a custom in India. We don't value the old stuff unlike here in America, which would have become a heritage.

The house we lived was the house where Kempe Gowda, founder of Bangalore lived. I have asked my nephew to save the 500 year old rosewood columns and the arches, and I hope to do something with it. It is historical.

Tippu goes on the record as the only 2nd head of the state in human history that was on the front line of battle field defending his state. He also has a record among all the British colonies to be the only one who captured and imprisoned the British soldiers.

The Kingdom of Mysore was also among three nations in the world that recognized American Independence and apparently July 4th was celebrated in Sri Rangapatna, the State Capital of Mysore in 1776.

Don’t forget he is the father of Rockets and inventor of Torpedo, known as Bangalore Torpedo. The British and American scientists have given him due recognition. Indeed, India’s first satellite was made in Bangalore as well.

[Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies where no people have to live in anxieties, discomfort or fear of the others. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at MikeGhouse@aol.com]

Experiencing Ramadan at Desoto Masjid Al-Islam, Warith Deen Muhammad

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 14 August 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

Title - Ramadan day 22 - Desoto Masjid Al-Islam
Date - Friday, August 10, 2012 | Ramadan 22, 1433
Place - Desoto Masjid Al-Islam (972) 274-1101
Address - 1120 W. Beltline Road, Desoto, TX 75115
Website - N/A
Iftaar Time today: 8:17 PM CST

Imam Yahya Abdullah is one of the old timers and goes back to the movement of Imam Warith Deen Muhammad, also known as the Nation’s Imam. He has been a part of many of the events we have done and we know each other for at least five years.

He is well known for his interfaith work. Indeed, Imam Warith Deen Muhammad is the first Muslim to initiate the interfaith Dialogue in America. Imam Abdullah and Imam Qasim were students of Imam WD Muhammad. 

Wiki, “Warith Deen Mohammed (born Wallace D. Muhammad; October 30, 1933 – September 9, 2008), also known as "W. Deen Mohammed" or "Imam W. Deen Muhammad", was a progressive African American Muslim leader, theologian, philosopher, Muslim revivalist and Islamic thinker (1975–2008) who disbanded the original Nation of Islam in 1976 and transformed it into an orthodox mainstream Islamic movement.” 

Nearly 2 million Muslims switched from Nation of Islam to Sunni Islam. The WD Muhammad group makes about 1/3rd of Muslims in the United States.”

The Masjid is located right on Belt line; this is the 3rd loop road around Dallas and runs on the south side of the town going through Desoto. On the north side of Belt line is Chapel Downs, a home subdivision. Instantly I was in my glorious past, way back in 1985, when I was a community manager for Ryland Homes, I wrapped up that neighborhood with the last few homes we had built. By the way the company had given me a cell phone, that had a huge steel suit case placed in the trunk of my car, and the wires were cut through to the front. I was driving nearly 150 miles a day that year driving from Denton to Desoto and Mesquite to Bedford, closing down subdivisions with a few lots left in each place, right before the market collapsed in 1986.

The atmosphere at this Masjid is more like a family gathering, mixing and mingling with each other. I made it to the Mosque a minute before Iftaar as I was stuck in traffic going through downtown Dallas on a Friday night. I wish I had gone earlier, there is 8 acres of land of this mosque with trees and I would have loved to take some pictures.

In the Warith Deen Tradition, the men and women sit together and break the fast, indeed; it highlights the cultural aspect of Islam. It’s only in America we have come to know that Islam as practiced has the religious and cultural components in it, in most other nations, both are intertwined and hard to distinguish between the two.

By the way, their teen girls have an outstanding Musical dance performance group. I have watched them perform at Family Federation church and the Lifeway Church. Their actions symbolize different aspect of prayers (Salat, namaz), it is amazing. Insha Allah, we may ask them to perform in our annual Thanksgiving Celebrations program; a cultural pluralism program of musical expressions. 

The Maghrib prayers were led by Khairi Muhammad, 14 year old student of Imam Yahya. It was refreshing to see this; the Imam lets his students lead the prayers. He said; let them practice it early on! 

Khairi also leads the Taraweeh prayers. 

What a joy to see the Masjid overwhelmed by young kids, both male and female, most of them prayed the fard (obligatory) as well as the optional prayers. Thanks to the management and membership of the Mosques for participating in picture taking and sharing. I am glad Imam Yahya asked the congregation for taking the pictures and everyone was a happy participant.

The ritual prayers are identical to most of the Sunni Mosques, the only difference I noticed was in the Tashahhud position, and most of us lift the fore finger when we recite, “Ashhadu-an La Ialha Illal La”, but they were lifting the fore finger and the middle finger together, it was more than three people doing that in the Sunna prayers to ignore as a personal thing. I forgot to ask the Imam about its significance, or it is simply a matter of he did it, I do it too! 

Dinner was non-Asian and non-Middle eastern for the first time in 22 days! It was fish with Barbeque Sauce on it with Brown rice and Salad. I have had barbeque in every fashion, but this was the first time with fish. Oddly it was cooked by a Lebanese itna-Ashri Shia couple and not middle-eastern food. Good food for a change! The brother believed that the Sunnis follow the12 imams, the three of us, Imam Yahya, Marzuk and I assured him that it is not in the Sunna and not a Sunni tradition. He thought that was Sunnah. Most Sunnis assume that all Muslims do what they do. 

The lady across me in green shirt was visiting from Little Rock Arkansas. She was considering doing her Ph.D in psych or pursues a law degree. Her joy was that the sisters were marrying Muslim men; I guess that is the case with all sisters in every faith in the world to marry within the community. It is particularly pronounced among Jews and Muslims, more than others. 

It was good to see Marzuk Jaami, if you have lived in Dallas for more than 20 years, you may recall him and many Muslims joining together in the neighborhood watches and driving the drug pushers and gangster out of the neighborhoods, they cleaned the neighborhoods! 

Marzuk is also one of the recipients of the “Pluralist” recognition that the Foundation for Pluralism honors every year at the Unity Day program. He pioneered an educational series called Abraham in three faiths, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad in three faiths, a great educational program. Insha Allah, he plans to resume that this September. I wish, I really wish, Muslims from other traditions attend this and enlighten themselves. 

Interestingly the dinner conversation involved China, almost everyone on the table was doing business in China, recycle, men’s suits… you name it. A few people call this China Masjid.
They have enough space on their grounds to do the Eid prayers along with other WD Muhammad tradition mosques. 

Each mosque and each tradition is uniquely different. Insha Allah, I will do my best to keep that uniqueness intact, however, it is not easy to write different things each day for the whole month, and we have just about 6or 7 days left! I hope this has been a meaningful journey for you. I urge you to jump in experience it yourselves.

[MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike 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 and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

Experiencing Ramadan at Shia Momin Center, Irving

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 12 August 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

Title - Ramadan day 17 Momin Center (Shia)
Date - Sunday, August 5, 2012 | Ramadan 17, 1433
Mosque - Metroplex Organization of Muslims in North-Texas
Address - 1019 Perry Street, Irving, TX 75060
Website - http://momin.org
Iftaar Time today: 8:24 PM CST

Today’s destination is the Shia Masjid in the city of Irving called Momin Center, in case you are wondering what Momin stands for, here it is: Metroplex Organization of Muslims in North-Texas. Please remember, it is a name, and not necessarily the organization of Muslims. That’s how we name things in the USA, all private entities.

Russia has thrown me off completely with their numbers, but no China today, indeed we have had views from Tibet as well. There may be a correlation here; I was invited to speak on Pluralism in Islam in Tataristan, Russia, but I could not go, their budget did not pick up the airfare, it makes sense why so many Russians are viewing this site, indeed, the statistic is similar with World Muslim Congress.org. It was the same story with Indonesia, did not get to go to speak on Islamophobia. If they pay for the airfare, I will go and present the papers on various aspects of Islam, particularly on Pluralism in Islam. 

One of the first things I do when I visit a Mosque is check on Quraan translations; One Hilali Khan’s translation is fraught with deliberate errors. Thank God, that is out of circulation now, but millions of copies are out there in the hands of public doing the damage - it is a sensitive issue, and part of the reason for Islamophobia. The Quraan I picked to read was published in Saudi Arabia, the translation of Quraan 1-7 was done up well. 

Got to meet with the Dr. Mustafa Zaidi, president of the center and Mr. Sohel Sachak, VP, Insha Allah, I will send them a formal invitation to join us at the Unity Day event with as many members of the center as they can on September 11, 2012 - by the way, our purpose is to bring all Americans together for a common purpose, to know each other and build a cohesive America. It is a positive step forward.

Maulana Raza Usmani is a visiting scholar. In the last three years I have been going to this Mosque, it is a common practice to bring scholars to give dars, education. There is one on Tuesday night prior to Iftaar, if someone wants to go. 

The Maulana explained the difference in Iftaar procedure well. Unlike the Sunnis and Ahmadiyya who do the Iftaar on the call for Maghrib (dusk) prayers, the Shias do it after the prayers. He said, they do break the fast on the call, but wait to eat after the supplication at the end of the prayers, they believe that supplication is more powerful after the Dua (supplication). However, on the call, one of the gentleman who knew me, asked me to go with my Iftaar and I did along with a few others. They had an additional item - Lassi, the yogurt shake, and that was delicious. I remembered back home in Bangalore, this was a common thing to serve in the Mosques. I cannot believe, I don't remember its name.

The Shias do the Maghrib and Isha prayer back to back, the Isha is 2 units, as the Imam's during Ramadan are usually visiting Imams. Most people do the balance 2 on Isha after the prayers. No Taraweeh prayers in Shia Mosques, it is a Sunni tradition initiated by Hazrat Umar.
The ritual prayer outlines are the same, but with a few differences in the process. During the Qiyaam (i.e., the standing position), the hands are dropped to the sides, I made an effort to do that, but did not feel home with it, so I did what I am used to; place my hands on my stomach folded together. The feeling was almost like the feeling when you don’t wear seat belt while driving. There is nothing wrong or right about either method, it is simply what you are used to.
Lifting of forefinger as a witness is a Sunni practice while reciting Ashadu anna Muhammadur Rasool Allah in the Tashahhud position and not a Shia practice.

Sunni prayers are concluded with a physical turn of the head to the right and then to the left with a Salaam Aliakum o Rahmatullah, while the Shias conclude it with the words alone in the middle of the recitation.

If I were to score on the quality of carpet, this mosque scores 8 out of 10, and the Plano Mosque would score low, the Masjid e Aqsa perhaps scores 10 out of 10, and Aqsa is one of the cleanest Mosques I have been to, it was incredibly clean!

One of the purposes of writing the Ramadan notes is, for us to see that each method is beautiful, and learn to drop the arrogance of wronging others. It’s not easy, but good things are not easy anyways.

The language we need to develop in expressing the difference is that of respect and not in terms of better or not better, but appreciation of the uniqueness. Do we forget that Allah constantly reminds as that the best among you is the one who knows the other, it means acknowledging the difference and living with it. At the Ahmadiyya Mosque, I added in my little talk, that Allah does not shower favors one over the other, he has not signed a deal behind others backs for us to be arrogant. The least liked person by God is an arrogant one.

May Allah help us all to learn to describe the otherness of others as genuinely as we can and with utmost respect. One of the greatest values of Islam is equality and it must reflect in our actions and words. No one should be looked down or up, shame on us if we do. You might want to consider reflecting on the wisdom of conducting a civil dialogue as describe in Sura Kafirun (http://quraan-today.blogspot.com/2008/07/sura-kafirun-un-believers.html)

Had a short discussion with the Maulana, and was amazed at the way he described Ayatul Kursi, and what does it mean to be in Jahilya box and how to get out of it. And, the first statement Prophet Muhammad made at Masjid-e-Nabwi about maintaining relationships.

[Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike 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 and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

Experiencing Ramadan at Ahmadiyya Masjid Bait-ul-Ikram

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 08 August 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

Title - Ramadan day 16 Masjid Bait-ul-Ikram
Date - Saturday, August 4, 2012 | Ramadan16, 1433
Mosque - Masjid Bait-ul-Ikram, Ahmadiyya Masjid
Address - 1850 Hedgecox Road, Allen, TX 75013
Iftaar Time today: 8:24 PM CST

This is the 3rd year of visiting different Mosques and places of worship for Iftaar during the month of Ramadan. Among the prominent ones are Masjid Al-Aqsa and Bait-ul-Muqaddas in Jerusalem, Fox News Studios, Unitarian and Family Federation of Churches in Dallas, and Lufthansa Airlines over the Atlantic.

As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards "knowing each other as guided by Quraan to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. Insha Allah, next year, we will work on doing Iftaar at a Synagogue, Baptist Church and Catholic Church and possibly places of worship of different faiths. Hindu teachings call it Vasudaiva Kutumbukum, we are all one large family under the blue dome. 

Throughout the month of Ramadan, I am on a journey to grasp, understand and share the meaning of Taqwa from different perspectives. One of the elements of Taqwa is to feel like, as Carl Sagan said, “a pale blue dot” against the vastness of universe. In 1990 the Voyager-I took the picture of Planet Earth from a distance of 3.7 billion miles from Earth in 1990. It was humility of first order, the Planet Earth was merely a speck, a Pale Blue Dot (.12 pixel in size) against the endless vastness of space. This ought to make us appreciate the greatness of the creator, and truly say, Allahu Akbar! 

Remember the words of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? He had said, when I die, bury me in an unmarked grave! This is an example of humility! Also known as Taqwa! He was the Prophet and did not have an ounce of arrogance; his life was an example for us to consider living as a good citizen. Indeed, every prophet exemplifies the simplicity of life. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wanted us to recognize we are merely a speck in the expanse of this great Aalameen.
At the Ahmadiyya Mosque, after the Maghrib Prayers, I was given a moment to share my thoughts, and I focused on Taqwa; it is to get closer to God, he is closer to us than our Jugular vein, meaning he is fully aware of everything we do, he is part of our consciousness, yet we have complete free will. 

When we are in tune with him, we would be acquiring his sifaats (qualities as we humans understand) like kindness, mercifulness, generosity and just and unbiased. Getting closer to God simply means having those qualities in us. For our Vedantic friends reading this item, the act is known as God conscious, and for most others it is spirituality or Kabalistic experience for our Jewish friends and mysticism for Sufis. These are different expressions of the same experience; being in tune with God; Taqwa.

In one of the stories, King Solomon asks God to give him all the powers God has, and in particular, he wanted to be Ar-Razzāq, the provider. God says No, and Solomon begs.
God says, you really have to be above pettiness to be Ar-Razzaq; Solomon comes back with try me! Then God says, ok I will give you a day. The next day, God calls Solomon onto the carpet and laughs at him. I told you, you cannot be Ar-Razzaq.

Solomon argues, what do you mean God, I was a great Ar-Razzaq, to which God says, Solomon, nothing doing, you goofed up, there is a man dying of hunger, why the hell did you withheld the food from him? Solomon, the smart Alec shoots back, “ha ha ha, you did not know that, did you? He was a disobedient Man! God says, I told you so Solomon, you have to rise above pettiness to be the provider, I am taking back my role, and your Taqwa meter is at zero.
Can we be in tune with God? It’s tough, but we can try and that is what Taqwa is all about. In our times, women like Mother Teresa has achieved the highest degree of Taqwa, men like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King have achieved that. Of course, we know many a Muslims have achieved that. Have you? Of course, I have not either, and I am trying. If we are unjust towards a person we don’t like, our Taqwa gets smashed to smithereens! Where do we stand on this one?

Now to answer your question what is the point in referencing Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Carl Sagan and others. It is because Taqwa is a universal aspiration, and it is open to every human being regardless of the religion one follows. 

Islam is a universal faith, and if others cannot relate with its concepts, then it cannot be universal. This blog is being read all over the world, hence the narration, so people of other faiths can relate with the Taqwa values.

A few Mosques do the education (dars) prior to fasting, Ahmadiyya Mosque is one such place and other one in Dallas is the WD Muhammad Mosques. Insha Allah, I will let you know about the Bohra Masjid next week.

The teacher was giving a dars at the Mosque, typical of most places of worship; his focus was on Shirk (dilution of God’s dominion) by followers of other religions where they focus on the messenger rather than the message. 

At 8:24 the announcement was made that it was time for the Iftaar, and everyone was served the Khajoors (dates). Each mosque has its own unique methodology in breaking the fast. The Madinah Masjid seems to have one of the most well directed process, the Imam leads all the supplications and no one can be lost in this mosque.

The Maghrib Prayers were observed in the same manner as the Sunni Irving, Richardson or Plano Mosques. The Imam kept the recitation short to be easy on the ones observing fast! There is no Imam per say at this Ahmadiyya Mosque, the president of the Association led the prayers, and in most smaller Mosques of all denominations, any one can lead the prayers, not necessarily, but usually the seniors are asked to do that. However, the bigger Mosques have full time professional Imams. When I was teenager, I led the kids prayers.

The traditions from breaking the fast to the Maghrib prayers and dinner are identical with the Sunni tradition that is followed in most of the Mosques in Dallas / Fort Worth area, and I grew up with the same rituals in Bangalore. Another part of the Taqwa in the realm of humility is NOT to have the arrogance to believe other traditions to be of lesser value. Each time you consider others tradition is of lesser value than yours, your Taqwa meter resets itself to Zero.

The Ahmadiyya Muslims have taken one of the largest service to the nation initiatives; blood donations. Last year they collected about 12000 units to save lives, this year they are targeting 12,000 units and hope to collect more. On September 11, they are doing the blood drive at Dallas City Hall. They are looking for additional locations. If you wish to join them, please do so.
Their Chicken Curry for Iftaar dinner was delicious, my Uncle use to cook the best Chicken Curry in the world and this curry was a close match, and I enjoyed it on a conversation with two seniors visiting from Lahore, Pakistan, and two seniors from Dallas. Good people doing good things.

This Mosque has also adopted the “Alma Road” stretching from Plano City into Allen, meaning the volunteers will put in their time and effort to keep the road clean. The City has placed a few signs along the road recognizing their service.

We appreciate their contributions in making our communities better.

[Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike 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 and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

Experiencing Ramadan at Islamic Center of Irving, Dallas

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 06 August 2012 | Posted in , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

Title - Ramadan day 15 Irving Masjid
Date - Friday, August 3, 2012 | Ramadan15, 1433
Mosque - Islamic Center of Irving
Address - 2665 Villa Creek Drive, Suite 206, Dallas, TX 75234
Website - http://irvingmasjid.org/
29 Mosques - 29 days of Ramadan at: www.RamadanDaily.com
Iftaar Time today: 8:28 PM CST

I simply cannot believe it is the 15th Iftaar of Ramadan of 1433.

The Islamic Center of Irving aka Irving Masjid is in the centre of the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex with great freeway access from both sides of the Metroplex. It’s a fairly diverse congregation with large Subcontinentian (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) congregants.

Dr. Imam Zia Shaikh is the resident scholar, author and Imam of the center. Without being biased towards other Imams, he is my favorite Imam in the area, he is one of the few Imams who understands interfaith relations and is active in it. He and I have authored two articles1, and have appeared in one TV2 Interview. He just wrote a book titled Silencing the Critics which is worth reading (link below to buy from Amazon). You can read more about him at the Masjid Website. 

Imam Zia Shaikh has attended at least 15 of the many interfaith events we organize, and he was the master of ceremonies (Compeer) in two of our events - www.Unitydayusa.comand www.holocaustandGenocides.com both designed to promote understanding between people of different traditions. He was the lead Imam at the www.QuraanConference.com. 

Imam Zia, as he is popularly known as, is a humble, gentle and a kind man. He has a pleasant approach towards finding solutions. He reasons with you rather than saying this is the way, an unusual Imam who makes a fan out of you. In one of our first meetings some eight years ago, he called on me to discuss my take on Islam that some had questioned, we had a healthy discussion and we saw each other’s point of view and concluded the conversation with more respect for each other, at least on my part.

At the Iftaar, he said something simple but powerful “This Ramadan, if we can take the idea that we don’t need much, and can live with little”. It was in reference to a Dallas area Pastor who is observing fasting. The Imam shared what the Pastor is writing in his blog about Ramadan, “During the prostration, it is a total submission” to God. More about the Pastor at: http://ramadanexclusive.blogspot.com/2012/08/dallas-pastor-observing-ramadan.html
Inside the sanctuary, there was a senior gentleman giving a talk about Ramadan to a group of people - this is a missionary group called Tablighi Jamaat, one of the other persons met me after the prayers, he said, two couples are visiting from Saudi Arabia on a mission to talk about Islam. 

The missionaries whether they are Mormons, Evangelists or the Jaamatis (Muslims), they all sound alike, using similar language and too eager to sell their religion. If you had experience with phone solicitation calls, you would see through this. Those guys memorize the whole spill and are eager to get it out of their system, when you interrupt them, they are lost, and instead of responding to your question they resume their spill. I don’t know their success rate, but in sales, they say if you hit enough numbers, someone will buy it. 

Imam Zia is sensitive about the needs of Ramadan, he recites short chapters during the Qiyam (standing position - check on the left panel of this blog for various positions) and same goes in Tashahhud - so the people who have fasted can get to the food quickly. I am sure most people appreciate that. I see the differences in sensitivities of each Imam.

There is a huge tent outside the mosque for Iftaar dinner, it was boxed dinner. While in the line, I got to speak with a few people, one of them has moved from Connecticut and was excited about the arrangements made here. He was asked by his friends back home to take the video and send it to them; he said he has not done that. Instead he will share this site.www.RamadanDaily.com . 

Please share the practice of your mosque in whatever city you live in.

I must emphasize this, the volunteers are handing the food in the most hygienic form, thus far, I have not seen any mishandling of food; all wear gloves and serve the food. Glad to know it has become a culture in the mosques. 

In Big D, that is Dallas, every now and then we see women wearing full Burqa, it is not common but it exists. I saw a lady walking from the Mosque to the tent this evening completely covered. A month ago, in the course Islam 101 at Plano Masjid, one of the ladies on the panel was completely covered with a small slit cut for her eyes to see. In Carrollton I saw a lady driving on George Bush freeway. That is three in three years of the 60,000 some Muslims in the area.
I should have known better, but we learn something new every day. There is a beautiful Mosque ( I thought) in Frisco, way back when I was managing a home building subdivision in Frisco (1998) this Mosque was under construction and I wondered if Qibla is incorporated into the Mosque as it seemed circular. Today, I decided to go for Juma prayers, as I go to different Mosques on Fridays. The place was all locked up, I hung around until 2:00 PM and left, it was too late to go the other Mosque in Frisco. The sign in front of the gate said, “school of Islamic Sufism.” The building, the gardens and the entry gate is magnificent.” Insha Allah, I will go back there one of these days. There was also a place called Tauheed Center in Frisco that was closed most of the times, someone said, that it was an Iranian Christian congregation. I have not verified that.

[Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike 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 and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

Experience Ramadan at Dallas Family Church

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 01 August 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

Title - Ramadan day 11 Dallas Family Church
Date - Monday, July 30, 2012 | Ramadan11, 1433
Mosque (not a Mosque) - Dallas Family Church (214) 905-9233
Address - 1922 Anson Road, Dallas, TX 75235

Today’s Iftaar was at Dallas Family Church.

Dallas Family Church is a place I visit a few times a year, and it is always a joy to be there, the folks at this ministry are committed to the interfaith work. Indeed, they have become a family to me, particularly Rev. Mark Hernandez. If he asks me to drop other things and join him, I will do that out of respect for this great man. As the month progresses, I will share some extraordinary stories and experiences from the interfaith events, including the one tonight.

Reverend Moon’s ministry has made several trips to Jerusalem with the Middle East Peace Initiative, and I have been with them as well. In Korea this March, they held an international meeting with thousands attending from across the globe. They celebrated the interfaith movement with a unique concept - they made 4 Gold plated statues of major religious leaders; Moses, Jesus, Buddha and for Islam, they made a gold plated symbol of Quraan on a pedestal and conducted their meetings under the umbrella of these. They are very respectful of Islam, and I have opened many a sessions with interfaith prayers. 

Today, Rev. Kook Jin Moon made it to Dallas, a Harvardian heading his father’s business, an inventor himself and a powerful speaker. He is visiting several Cities in the United States and other countries on a mission about creating freedom societies, similar to mine building cohesive societies, but his emanates from theology of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, his father.
Mark asked me to join him to hear Kook Jin this evening, and also asked me to join for lunch. I mentioned to him that I will join them, but that, I am fasting. 

Mark Sat next to me and was reluctant to eat, I broke the ice, and told everyone to simply enjoy their food, the more temptations sit in front of me, the stronger I get in my fasting, indeed, I looked into each delicious dish, and took pictures as well. The food looked real good.

Then I spoke about what fasting was all about - it’s to bring Taqwa, the spirituality in us, it is getting closer to God and acquiring those qualities - to be kind, forgiving, generous, loving and caring towards all of God’s creation, and to learn to be ourselves by being ourselves rather than go with the flow.

Kook Jin Moon shared some powerful views about freedom, less government, less regulations and let the freedom determine the outcomes. Ideologically, it sounds good and almost like the concept of “freedom wins” at last. I shared the concept of freedom expressed in Quran 2:256, that there shall not be no compulsion in the maters of faith. 

Furthermore, God could have prevented or programmed Adam to be obedient, and we would not have been kicked out of heaven. God means business, when he gave free will to Adam, he meant it. He did not interrupt, nor did he slap Adam for disobedience. Adam knew there was a consequence to his decision, and we are living it.

When Christians talk about the first sin, or being born sinners, they mean that it is in our DNA to disobey, and that we have to do our inner Jihad to be free again.

On the other hand, the Saudi Police is intolerant of Muslims who do not fast, as if they are responsible to God on the Day of Judgment. I don’t know if Iran has enforcers. What an individual does is his own business and not any one’s. Similarly, a few Muslims embarrass others by blatantly asking them if they are observing the fast. On our part, we should not look down on those who don’t observe fasting, as it amounts to degrading our own taqwa. I do hope our Imams agree with this. Isn’t Islam about common sense and free will?

Rev. Mark Hernandez is Chair for the seven states area for the American Clergy Association and Family federation of Churches, in 2005 he heard me on 820 AM Radio and came to the Unity Day USA, since then we have become friends. The founder of this world wide church is Rev. Sun Myung Moon whose ministry is based in South Korea, but has flourished well in the United States. He is quite an influential person on the world stage. I have had the opportunity to have breakfast with him and his wife at 4:30 AM a few years ago, and also welcomed him in Dallas by placing a Garland on him, and my late wife Najma had welcomed his wife Rev. Hak Jahan Moon. I have met with three of their sons, who run their own businesses and head the church now, and thier daughter Rev. Injin Moon, who heads the Church in the United States.

Breaking the Fast

The program was from 7-10 PM and breaking of fast was at 8:32 PM. I had informed Rev. Hernandez earlier, who had informed Rev. Moon that I will be stepping out for Iftaar, thank God; Mrs. Yuri Hernandez had set a fruit plate for me and Marzuk Jami, the other Muslim among some 250 people in a packed hall to listen to Kook Jin Moon. By the way, we quietly walked out and did our Iftaar and Maghrib prayers in the fellowship hall. My i-phone compass worked to point to the Kaaba. 

This is the first time I am on the other side of the fence.

Five years ago, my Sikh and Zoroastrian friends reluctantly shared a story from seven years ago, and they wanted to know why Muslims had walked out on them in the Unity Day in 2005? They asked if the prayer sequence for religious leaders be reversed this time from Zoroastrians to Atheists (though not a religion, they are a part of the Unity Day) instead of the other way around. I could not bear their hurt, and quickly did inquires and found out that Muslims did walk out on them when the Sikhs, Wicca and Zoroastrians were speaking. I don’t let these things go unverified, and found out that it was the time for Maghrib on September 11, 2005 and Muslim went to prayers. It was all in Alphabetical order. My Sikh and Zoroastrian friends were relieved knowing the truth, and the restoration of goodwill.
Our Keynote speakers that evening were Daisy Khan and Mayor Pat Evans of Plano. I shared the story and added that for Muslims, duty to God takes precedence over other things, and mentioned to the Mayor and other Mayors present that even if President George Bush (2007) would be speaking, Muslims would go to pray. It was a revealing story, and the moral is, don’t hold against people without verifying the truth. Whether it is Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims or any one, we really need to verify before we hold someone in contempt, it is for our own good, saving the anguish and sustaining the goodwill.

And today, it was my turn to inform the organizers of the event to let them know in advance, that I will be stepping out to do my Iftaar. Indeed, I stepped out at 8:29, right when Rev. Kook Jin Moon was being introduced. This ministry is well versed with the religious nuances of Jews, Christians, Hindus and Muslims. 

Rev. Kook Jin Moon’s talk on freedom was incredible, I do see his point, he is more like Ron Paulian libertarian, and I am more like Gary John Libertarian or John Huntsman Republican. We did talk about Sean Hannity. Sean is indeed a good conservative who believes in genuine individual freedom, but somehow he slips into being a radical Republican. He did correct me once that he is a conservative rather than the Republican and I pray he remains conservative but becomes a moderate Republican.

I will write about Rev. Moon’s speech in a separate piece. However, I do want to thank Rev. Hernandez for inviting me, and appreciate the honor Rev. Joshua Cotter gave me by referencing several times from the stage. 

Happy Ramadan.

[Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike 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 and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

Experiencing Ramadan - Day 10 at Masjid Yaseen, Garland

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 31 July 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

Ramadan day 10 Masjid Yaseen, Garland
Title - Ramadan day 10 Masjid Yaseen,
Date - Sunday, July 29, 2012 | Ramadan10, 1433
Mosque - Masjid Yaseen
Address - Campbell Road, Garland, Tx 75044
Website - www.MasjidYaseen.org 

Masjid Yaseen is perhaps one of the first Mosques in the area that is built 10 years ahead of its time; ample parking and spacious sanctuary space to grow into. The paneling on the Mehrab is full two stories high and looks beautiful with full height windows. This mosque also has great PA system that gives out clear crispy voice of the Imam during the prayer.

Again, the dome of this mosque is first of its kind that is symmetrical, and raised above the roof top to be seen from outside. The builder in me spots things that are unusual; the dome on this mosque is raised high enough to be visible from the parking space and on either east or west, it is the south side that the dome is not visible, as the building itself is about 5 fee above street level. A few other mosques sunk the dome behind jagged edged walls on the outside, no idea why they cannot focus on street scape. However, that is a different design element altogether, the dome of this Mosque is just very pleasant and so is its color. 

I was looking at the name of the organization, “Islamic Association of Arabi” unlike most other Mosques that list the name of the city. But when I browsed through the website I found what Arabi meant; it is a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana where this tradition of Mosque took root. Their website reads, “The Islamic Association of Arabi began as a small Masjid (Masjid Yaseen) and in only five years, the first boarding Islamic institute in the United States was established. From 1990 to 2005, fifty-five American Muslim children completed memorization of the Holy Quran and another thirteen went on to become Scholars of Islam. Today, Alhamdulillah, it is a sense of great pride that these products of The Islamic Association of Arabi are serving various Masjids and communities all over our nation.”
I was early in the mosque, and searched for the Hilali Khan translation of Quraan, thank God; I did not see it, as it is one of the most dangerous translations of Quraan that fuels Islamophobia. There was a translation in Urdu, and read through the first chapter and it was fine. I am very conscious of the wrong translation and the havoc they play in the society. Sean Hannity at Fox News had mentioned that to me, and I presented him with Muhammad Asad's translation, which is by far the best, but not perfect.

Iftaar - Breaking the fast

It was great to see Brother Mir Yusufuddin in the Mosque. He is one of the earliest Indian Muslims pioneers to have come to the United States. Most of the migration started in mid-sixties, right after the passage of the Civil rights acts. But Dallas was blessed with about 10 families who came in early sixties - among them were Brother Sabu, Dr. Bukhari, Dr. Amanullah Khan, Dr. Afzal and others. I believe Yusufuddin bhai came in around that time. He was on my Radio show in 1996 where we did a talk show series and he shared the story of Dallas then - there was no Halal meat nor any Indian grocery was available at that time. We talked about the history of Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and others, then Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others. By the way, the oldest Indian in town is a Jewish man by the name Simon Saragon, who migrated with his mother in 1932! The second one was Ike Sekhon, a prominent Indian Sikh, who came to Dallas in 1956. He passed away a few years ago.

Prayers

The Audible Aameen chorus after Sura Fateha was toned down in this mosque, and at the Noori Masjid, it did not exist, in other Mosques it is vigorous.

After the prayers, it was time for Hadeeth reading. The gentleman, a Medical doctor was reading the Hadiths from Sahih Bukhari - In one Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says to his associates that if you can find a way to remove ill-will towards every one, keep it that way, that is the right thing to do. I was rather pleased to hear that Hadith. He shared a few other Hadiths, and repeated each one three times; I was attentive to see if the narrator of the Hadith was different, it was the same narrator. Later he told me that, it was prophet’s practice to emphasize it by repeating three times.

I wish he had clarified the depth of the words “ill-will towards none” as I have heard a few among us, who understand it be “ill-will towards no Muslim”. It should mean towards any human being. Not sure, if there is a feedback system in place to ensure the kids understood it the same way or the other way. 

Last year, I was the speaker at Diwali celebrations, and told the story of Rama and Krishna to the nearly all white non-Hindu audience, and when the time for feedback came, almost everyone understood the way it was explained to them. Everyone knew Sita and her relationship with Rama. I was surprised at the attentiveness and listening habits, and the president of Hindu Temple was rather pleased to see good feedback, so did Nishi Bhatia, a teacher and an organizer of the event. 

Dinner

The Haleem was extraordinary, unlike the dark colored ones, this one was light , and maybe it was chicken Haleem, if there is a thing like that. Haleem is grinding the meat with lentil and cooking it together, creating a thick pasty pulpy food. It had the Hyderabadi touch to it - bits of cashew added to it made it delicious. I am waiting Ramadan to be over, so I can eat, Bisi Bele Baath, a south Indian vegetarian dish with Lentil, Veggies and Rice cooked together.

Taraweeh

I was stunned with the pace of Quraan recitation in this mosque. One gathering prays in the main sanctuary and the other on the second floor - the second floor guys are doing the Khatam-Khwani; i.e., completing the entire Quraan recitation in Taraweeh Prayers in 10 days! The main floor guys will finish in normal time - 27 to 28 days and these guys will do it three times. You know what time they go home? 12:30 AM! And what time do they get up? 4:30 AM!. That is dedication to Ramadan!

I hope you see the uniqueness of each mosque and will have no ill-will towards others for practicing their own version of Islamic rituals, and some times, very differently. By the time, I will finish writing about Ramadan in28 to 29 days, we all should have a pretty good idea about the uniqueness of each Masjid.

If reading this is offering you an understanding of different traditions within Islam, and is opening your heart and mind to respect other traditions, please feel free to share your comments.

One of the purposes for my visits to different Mosques each day, during the month of Ramadan is to understand various traditions and have the cushion to absorb them all and give full value to each one. I hope, some day, more and more Muslims make these rounds. It is humbling and yet powerful to have the ability to understand the differences and respect them. 

[MikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike 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 and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

Ramadan Realization

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 July 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

DAY 4 - Madinah Masjid, Carrollton
Monday, July 23, 2012 | Ramadan 4, 1433
Iftaar Time: 8:36 PM CST
Madinah Masjid, 2180 Old Denton Road, Carrollton, TX 75006
Website: www.madinahmasjid.com

I was completely exhausted today, the fasting really got to me. I was hungry from Noon down. The only thing that came to my mind was hungry children and people around the world in Congo, Haiti, Somalia and Burma. The tragedy of Rohingi people in Burma shatters me… it is the identical humility that the Vietnamese suffered, and Darfurians and Palestinians are enduring. 

A sense of responsibility grips me and the only possible thing I can do is pray for them, and through fasting, in my own way, I express solidarity with them, and empathize with them. Taqwa or spirituality in simple terms is being in tune with the creation, created and the creator. We feel helpless, yet we feel part of the whole universe.

My biggest reference point is always Holocaust, the world did nothing while people were sent to gas chambers, and mercilessly shot into the ditches… the looks in their eyes was so overwhelming, friends turned their faces away from them; a sheer betrayal of humanity. That is one of the most dominating scenes in my life, when I hear the word helplessness, that is the scene for me and that means more of the Ramadan Realization for me, a month of connecting with humanity, a month of feeling empathy for others and a month of goodwill generation.

I was debating about breaking the fast in my office. But, decided to head out to Madinah Masjid. It is perhaps the only Mosque in the area with arrangement for Iftaar dinner every evening. 

My friend Javed Haider has been in-charge of Ramadan Iftaar along with Amin, Naushad and a few others for several years. I go to Madinah Masjid, at least twice during each Ramadan. The hospitality here is exemplary, a smaller but a friendly group of people.
Madina Masjid is a fully ethnic mosque, meaning the congregants are homogenous and predominantly Urdu Speaking. Most of them are from India and Pakistan. Other than the ritual prayers, all other talk is in Urdu. 

Those who come fresh from India or Pakistan may feel home at this Mosque, it is a continuation of every practice that is done back home. 

For instance, before breaking the fast, in most mosques the Adhan (prayer call) signifies the moment to break the fast, in Madinah Masjid, Imam Seraj Misbahi sits down with the group and recites the words slowly prior to breaking the fast, so others can repeat after him.

After the formal obligatory congregational prayers, most mosques conclude the prayers at the last act of the ritual - that is sending peace and blessings to the right and to the left with the head turning in both directions. In Madinah Masjid, the Imam goes for the duwa (supplication) after the end of the prayes, a common practice in the Subcontinent.

The Imam also keeps the recitations short; the prayers are supposed to be short during Ramadan. Imam Zia Shaikh of Irving and Imam Muhammad Shakoor of Dallas are sensitive to this need. However, when a guest imam leads the prayers in some Mosques, the Imams love their own voices so much that they take it for ever, and it is quite taxing during Ramadan. I wish everyone tells some of these Imams to keep it short and take all the time they want in the Taraweeh Prayers; that is the special nightly prayers during Ramadan, where one chapter of Quraan is completed each night in 29 to 30 days.

The food was great with Salad, lentil, rice, and grilled chicken. The dessert was kheer (rice pudding) with sliced almonds and possibly broken cashew. Loved it! 

Ah, our friend Marylou at the world Muslim congress forum, thought it was humorous that I had to wipe my fingers inside of my pant pockets as there was no napkin available yesterday or the other two days. Here at Madinah Masjid, thank God they had a good supply of them and I wiped my fingers with the napkin after breaking the fast.

I urge fellow Muslims to become a part of the whole and visit different Mosques for Iftaar with an open mind and respectful of other traditions. It takes you out of the narrow cubby and puts you out in a larger world. That is what Ramadan is supposed to make you, give you arms to embrace the whole humanity.

[Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on the topics of Pluralism, Coexistence, politics, interfaith, Islam and cohesive societies. He is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

Experiencing Ramadan - Day 2 at Richardson Mosque

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 25 July 2012 | Posted in , , , , , ,

By Mike Ghouse

Please note that the Ramadan diary is written for our Muslim and non-Muslims friends alike, hence the language is un-typical. We will do our best to weave through references that our Christian, Hindu, Jewish and other friends can relate with. By the way, we have been talking (Radio) and writing about the essence of major festivities of all religions so we can understand each other. It is a call from God to learn about each other and know each other, when we do that, myths about others disappear, we open up to friendships without reserve or fear.

SATURDAY, JULY 21, 2012
Dallas Central Mosque, 840 Abrams Road,
Richardson, TX 75081
Website: www.Iant.com

Tonight is the 2nd day of Ramadan, and I went to the Richardson Mosque, my home Mosque (below) and the standard bearer for North Texas Mosques. A majority of the Mosques (Sunni tradition) more or less follow the traditions followed here. This is the first “major” Mosque in North Texas and almost every Muslim who has been in Dallas prior to turn of the century has been a part of this Mosque. Of course we have over 35 Mosques and several Musallas (Mini-Mosques) in North Texas; we have enough people to have one for every denomination.
The euphoria of Ramadan lends to the fellowship (Ramadan day 1) that we all desire and look forward to. It generates the same good feeling of kindness and piety that Christians feel during Christmas and Hindus during Navaratri, Jews during Rosh Hashanah and others during their festivals.

The best way to enjoy Ramadan is to go early to the Mosque, and I went way too early which lend me to talk with key people and of course, take pictures of the sanctuary for my friends. For my Muslim friends, I highlight the uniqueness of each denomination, much of which is cultural. 

My first visit was with our Imam, Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci (more about him in the links below) who and I have worked together on different occasions for almost 20 years from the Asian News days; he has been on my Radio show several times in the Mid-Nineties. Our conversation is usually about intra-faith and interfaith issues. In some of the most critical moments of my public life, he and Imam Zia Shaikh of Irving have been great guides. There was a situation in 1996 and again in 2005 at the Unity Day where we handled it fairly well. From time to time, he has appreciated my approach that is free from the back-home-baggage. 

Richardson Mosque has been a home Mosque to me, although I do not go there frequently, it feels home. For those living outside the United States, you may find this as a news item that almost every Muslim (both male and female) drives to the mosque; there are no separate residential areas where people of any religion live exclusively. Even though there is a trend for developing smaller neighborhoods around the Mosques, it will not become the life style. In the long haul integration (not assimilation) is essential for the overall good of individual communities and nation as a whole.

As I was walking out of Imam Kavakci’s office, I ran into my friend Brother Muhammad Suleman, he was the past president of the Islamic Center and president during the 9/11 crisis, he was also featured in High Profile in Dallas Morning News, a great honor for our community. He and I have worked on many projects together including two years on my Radio show, wisdom of religion (all the religions), where he and I spent two years on Radio talking about Islam on every Friday morning for an hour. Please say your get well prayers for Mrs. Suleman who is in hospital today.

900, yes, Nine Hundred people were in the community hall waiting for the Adhan (prayer call) to signify the time to break the fast. In Jerusalem, they fire a gun into air to signify end of Suhoor (pre dawn meal) as well as Iftaar. I was held at the check point for Masjid Al-Aqsa by an Israeli guard, that is another story. In smaller mosques, people gather around as a groups and there will a personal announcement (refer to day 1) to break the fast.

Take a look at the plates on the tables, a piece of Banana, three dates, a piece of water melon, a glass of milk and water. The plates were all set up for people to pick one and take their seat at the tables. Once again, that is 5 billion dates consumption across the world, today! Why dates? That is another story, I have written two years ago, but will re-incorporate when I see dates are flooded in some mosque this month. Each Mosque has evolved into its own practice.

After breaking the fast, the next call you hear is Aqama, fairly similar to the Adhan right before the congregational prayers. Anyone can lead the prayer, even though Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci is the imam (pastor, pundit, rabbi, shaman, clergy, minister), he designates one of his students from his academy to lead the prayers, and he has 60 Huffaz (plural for Hafiz, the one who memorizes the whole Quraan) in Dallas, and one of them is the world renowned one: Rashad Hussain the US Ambassador to OIC. 

We were back to the community hall for dinner, a large open building that accommodates nearly 1000 seated in theater style. The hall is used for basket ball and other community activities including interfaith dinners. Nearly five years ago, my late wife Najma’s funeral prayers were held here, the Fire Marshall did not allow more than 2200 people, the capacity for the standing room, that’s how Muslim funeral prayers are conducted; in standing posture. She left in peace and thanks to our friends from every faith for participating in the prayers.
Serving dinner for 900 people is not easy! Mr. Waqar Qazi runs the Silver Spoon restaurant and has become quite adept in handling catering to large gatherings. There are a few pictures of the kitchen where the volunteers formed an assembly line that beats Henry Ford’s assembly line; they placed the food on the plate consisting of Salad, Rice, lentil-veggies, and Chicken curry in healthy portions. About 6 plates were placed on a tray and put on the counter... the volunteers grabbed the tray and walked to each table, and delivered the food…. All in 20 minutes! Yes 20 Minutes! That is amazing accuracy! 

There was a senior citizen, who did not want to be pictured or named, but the people in Richardson know him, he is probably in his seventies, but has the energy of a young man and was managing the food serving and delivery very effectively. He was literally running all over the place to ensure everything ran smoothly. Thanks to this unknown soldier.
The other lead volunteer (forgive me if there was another one) was Amir Omar, the Richardson City Councilman (pictured with a tray in his hand, clean shaven head). He is one of the four or five who made the trips from the counter to the tables delivering all that food in 20 minutes.

Today, he is one of the most popular council men in North Texas, because he is there with every community volunteering his time generously. He is an example of how to be a fully participating and contributing member of the society. He is a true representative of Richardsonians. He is on facebook as well, tag him and show you support. 

Yunus Anthony, announced a gathering of new converts, and I regret not making it to that corner, but did talk to him, who was also at the Carrollton Mosque yesterday. I hope he and his group will serve as volunteers for the Unity Day event on Tuesday, September 11, 2012. God willing, I will be visiting Churches, Temples, Synagogues and other places of worship to find volunteer to represent every race, ethnicity and faith to be present at the Unity Day. www.UnitydayUSA.com 

By the way years ago, Richardson Mosque started a Medical clinic to serve the people who do not have insurance, it is for everyone, and people from all faiths and traditions visit this clinic for care. I am proud of this clinic, where Muslims are contributing to the well being of the overall society. Of course, there are other initiatives and other clinics, and that will be expressed in a different context. 

Indeed, Richardson Mosque is an example of being a part of the society, serving the society. I believe that is the purpose of a Mosque, a community center. More about the Mosque at www.Iant.com.

[Mike Ghouse is committed to doing his individual share of building cohesive societies and invites you to the 8th Annual Unity Day USA on Tuesday, September 11, 2012. Details at www.UnitydayUSA.com, it’s an event that builds bridges and uplifts every American. Watch the trailer of the upcoming film - Americans Together, building a cohesive America at www.AmericaTogetherFoundation.com. Mike Ghouse is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor. He can be contacted at mikeghouse@aol.com]

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