Thursday, April 19, 2007

Yom Milaad Celebrations

Mike Ghouse, April 15, 2007

The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim community of Dallas has done an outstanding job in presenting the Yom-e-Milaad-un-Nabi, a Celebration of birthday of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)] for the 4th year in a row.

This year’s theme was the essence of Prophet Muhammad’s gesture to the visiting Christians from Najran to conduct the Eucharist and the Christian prayers in his Mosque. The speaker, Dr. Reza Shah Kazemi, research associate of the Institute of Ismaili studies focused on this one issue and talked about the inclusiveness model that Prophet gave to the humankind, not just Muslims.

It meant honoring another way of worshipping the divine reinforced by the verse from Qur'an, Al-An'am, Surah 6:163-164: “I ask whether I should seek any god besides God--when he is the Lord of all things. All people will reap the harvest of their own deeds; no one will bear another’s burden. Ultimately, all of you will return to your Lord, and he will resolve your disputes.”

He pointed out the non-exclusivity embedded in the teachings of Qur’aan, and outlined the role of the religion from a belief in the creator, to believing in accountability of one’s action and understand the reward or punishment that goes with it. Ultimately it is God’s grace and mercy that gives us salvation. All People harvest their own sowing.

Qur'an, At-Taghabun, Surah 64:2-4: It was God who created you; yet some of you refuse to believe, while others have faith. He is aware of all your actions. He created the heavens and the earth to manifest the truth. He fashioned each one of you--and each one of you is beautiful. To God you will all return. He knows all that the heavens and the earth contain. He knows all that you hide and all that you reveal. He knows your deepest thoughts.

Dr. Kazemi addressed the unfortunate presence of fanaticism and extremism that has plagued the world today, how we have let a few plunder the humankind. He related a story from 1860 AD, where one of the Muslim leaders Sheikh Abd al-Qadir protected 40,000 Christians from a Muslim oppressive ruler of that district, when the ruler’s army approached Abd al Qadir’s compound where he was safeguarding the 40,000 Christians in Damascus, the Sheikh asked his guards to be prepared to fight the oppressors in the cause of Justice. Thanks God he saved the lives. That is the sense of Justice Islam preaches. The 5th was not available to them; they had to fight against their own co-religionist for defending the rights of greater humankind. Justice means justice, not favoring your own and not compromising on being just.

As an activist for Pluralism and Islam, I was thrilled to know that Dr. Kazemi was touching upon the idea that I have been writing in just about every 4th commentary I write, “It is not the religion, it is the individual that is wrong.”

Jeffrey Weiss of Dallas Morning News brought the event to a conclusion with his remarks. He held on to the ideals of Journalism, that I have cherished in Ted Koppel and Tim Russet, not to take sides with any idea lest it will be taken as biased. He gave a memorable analogy of the tapestry that can be seen as a beautiful piece of art from the front, and a whole lot of tangling and dangling thread on the back side. Every religion can be seen in that fashion. Dallas Morning News’s religion section has won national awards 7 out of 8 years for their unbiased coverage. Jeff heads the religion section of Dallas News. The Journalist in me says salutes the Journalist in you Jeff. Namaste!

An Additional comment:

Our mission at World Muslim Congress is driven by the Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware."In pursuing the ideals of Islamic pluralism, we have made our purpose to be inclusive of all humanity that God has created, the whole world is one family, as Hinduism puts it succinctly “Vasudeva Kutumbam”. As Muslims, we want to understand the pain and suffering of those how have endured such adversity; as Muslims, we want to be blind when it comes to serving the humankind, serve regardless of who they are; as Muslims, we believe Justice means fairness and equity with prejudice towards none; as Muslims our presence should give a sense of safety, security and peace to those around us. To us, that is Islam in a nutshell, aspiring for a just society and striving for that elusive equilibrium between man and his environment.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: and . He can be reached at Mike lives in Carrollton with his family and has been a Dallasite since 1980.

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