Monday, November 30, 2009
Mike Ghouse to Speak at Parliament of Worlds Religions
Continued - http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/11/mike-ghouse-to-speak-at-parliament-of.html
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Thanksgiving, an expression of gratitude.
It is one of my favorite holidays; it is a day to express gratitude to all those who have helped shaped our lives. It is also a day to express friendship and kindness to those who are struggling with the difficulties of life, thanksgiving is a day of sharing. Thank you for reading this note and forwarding it to your friends.
Why should we do that?
Well, let’s start with the concept of balance in life. Our happiness is directly dependent on fulfillment of our desires; the greater the desires, the lesser the fulfillment. The more we want, bigger the discontentment. Buddha said, No desire no sorrow!
That was my first philosophical debate with an American traveling in the train to Bombay in the early 70’s. He said, well the animals don’t desire much then what’s the difference between them and us?
Walk the Middle path, said the Prophet, just have enough desires that you can fulfill them, happiness will follow. My mother used to say “don't stretch your feet beyond your sheet”, meaning stay within your means. Every faith and every family is enriched with such an advice.
It's just not you, ask Bill Gates, whom God has blessed proportionately for his intelligence, he would answer, not enough! Ask the Homeless; the answer is still the same, not enough. Who has enough then?
Life is a self-balancing act;
For every good we receive, we have to offer our gratitude to the giver, absence of a simple thank you creates an imbalance in the relationship and the spiritual energy. A simple thank you will tie the loose ends and brings the balance back.
For every hurt we hurl on others, an equal amount of burden gets dumped on us, and until we say sorry and repent genuinely, the energy balance within us deteriorates. The transaction remains incomplete.
Just as the accountant recites his mantra, for every debit there is a credit; the physicist says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; heat lost equals heat gained; and as a spiritualist I feel that for every wrong we do, an equal amount of energy is drained from us and for every good we do, energy is recouped.
Life is a continual act of balancing between pain and pleasure, and to lead a normal life we have to maintain that equilibrium. We are constantly receiving and giving energy, intake and output must be equal to have a healthy mindset, else we are thrown off balance.
What is life, what is hope?
Let me share a story from my teen years. It was a Sunday ritual for me to sit and take care of the poor. A line of the needy people would pass in front of my house and being the oldest in the family, my Dad had assigned me the task of doling out the cash and food items to the individuals as they pass our door. I have seen lepers, people who cannot see, hear or talk, and certainly people with missing body parts.
I was fascinated by one such person, he did not have arms and limbs from the base of the body, he was just the torso and the head. He wrapped his body with a tube (those days car tires were inlaid with an air tight rubber tube to hold the air) of a car tire, and would slide inch by inch on his back from door to door... his shoulder and rear part would move in tandem similar to a snake. He would always made me think about life and hope. I was about 14 years old then and was hesitant to speak with him.
Appaiah turned around and asked me instead “Isn’t there so much to thank the lord?” I was rendered speechless. Here is a man with nothing to hope for, yet he is not complaining, that is gratitude. Just that morning, I heard my Dad’s favorite verse from Qur’aan- 55:16 “Then which of the favors of your Lord will ye deny? To this day, if I am down, I to go to the scriptures, I have found solace in opening Bhagvad Gita, Bible, Dale Carnegie’s book, the book of Mormon or Kitáb-i-Aqdas or simply read Sura Rahman, chapter 55 in Qur’aan, to uplift my spirits. We have to be grateful for whatever we have and express it to the unknown giver, a true thanksgiving.
One day, I asked him what made him want to live. He did not have relatives, could not do anything, could not have a family, could not have a place to live, and could not wear clothes.... what made him want to live?
He took a deep breath and looked at me and said, “Son, I look forward to every morning to see the blue sky or see the rain and smell the earth, I smell and taste the good food people give me, I am thankful to God for giving me these eyes to see the beauty of his creation.. he was quite poetic.
Today or tomorrow, please carry a small piece of paper with you anywhere you go, and whenever you find a quiet moment, make a list of all the people you want to thank, you will find a sense of relief in it. Even if you don’t call every one on the list, you have already said your thanks by thinking about the individual and reciting his or her name in your mind. When you express your gratitude to the persons who have made a difference in your life, it brings a ton of relief to you. The tension of the action (good done to you) is released with your re-action of thinking about them or writing their name down and possibly calling them.
Ponder over all the good things people have done to you, the good words they have said to you. Even if you don’t like some of them now, separate the good they have done and say thanks for it. Reign in on your ego and see the victory you feel within you.
My Gratitude, what is yours?
This year, as always my gratitude goes to the causer of life, my family, friends and well wishers.
My Dad and Mom who opened the doors of knowledge for me. I am grateful to them for inculcating the values of pluralism and co-existence, right from the beginning.
My Sister and Brothers who were always there for me and a happy bunch of Pluralists.
Jeff and Fern, my son and daughter in law, are a source of joy to me. Both of them have an open mind and a heart towards God's creation. They have removed the cultural and religious barriers between them and God's creation. He is going to be a great Attorney and Fern will be a great Engineer.
Jasmina my daughter and I connect like my Mom and her Dad connected. If there were to be reincarantion, she and I have been dad and daughter for several lives. Some of the deffinitions of Pluralism have come from my daughter when she was five years old, "Gee Dad, it's cool that God can be worshipped in so many different ways" got that written down as " If we can learn to respect the devotion of each faith towards its creator, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge". Silently, Jazzie has contributed a whole lot in my thinking. She is going to be a Psychologist and would be a great one.
Saleh Shariff and I have been life time friends, we have been a mirror to each other and thank God, both of us have done our share of contribution towards the well being of humanity.
My friend Mr. Everett Blauvelt, whom I affectionately call Dadsky, is the reason for me to be here in America, he encouraged, enticed and sponsored me. Lily Blauvelt, Becky and Mary and Mike are part of my family and am grateful to them.
Mr. DD Maini who has been a friend and a Dad like figure to me. We go to Dinners and Lunches together often and share the life experiences.
Najma, my late wife, who and I shared a range of life experience. We have lived our life experiencing the full spectrum of emotions ranging from Khatta (sour), Meetha (sweet), Pheeka (tasteless), Teekha (off), Khara (spicy) and Kadva (bitter) brim with caring and lots of loving. Najma's father and mother and her family members as well.
Yasmeen, my fiancee is a true blessing in my life. As my former company Drees Homes' slogan said "Be yourselves" she is herself and I am myself, together we are looking forward to a life of nurturing, caring and being a catalyst to each other's joy and existence.
Adil Khan, my friend is an inspiration to me. He will take his shirt off and give it to a friend if that friend is in need. He is the one who goaded me into working for the PhD.
Ella, my ex-wife, has done a fabulous job in raising our kids Jeff and Mina, the joys of my life; I could not have asked for more from God. She has done what great mom's do to their kids. I am always greatful to her.
My bosses Harbans Lal (India), Gerry Morris, DW Lewis, Kathy Bounds and Mike Davis have taught me some of the most beautiful lessons of life.
My grade school teacher, Mr. Abdul Hakim is unforgettable, his name comes up at least once a week in my words. He went out of his way to see kids learn and go with higher education. He was and will continue to be part of my life.
My friends in Pluralism and interfaith work from Thanksgiving Square, the Universal Peace Federation, Dallas Peace Center and other organizations.
MaryAnn Thompson-Frenk and Joshua Frenk particularly, as my own dream of interfaith co-existence is fulfilled through their dream work at Memnyosyne Foundation.
Bernie Mayoff has been a good friend and helps me realign my thoughts every now and then. I appreciate that.
I want to thank all my friends for being there for me; Surendar Mittal, Kundan Sharma, Jamil Ahmed, Adil & Nosheen Khan, Kathy Bounds, AK Mago, Nadir & Maliha Durrani, Vina & Ghanshyam Dave, Tamim & Farida Shipchandler, Bala Reddy, Akram Syed, Dewey Lewis, Mike Davis, Coke Buchanan, DJ Sharma, Sibghat Ulla Khan, Lu Rahman, Mohamed Afsar, Syed Naseeruddin, Suhas Naik, Farooque Hemani, M. Krishna, Javed Iqbal, Francis Thomas, Su Kumar, Shiv Kumar, Maad Abu Ghazalah, Esther Vasquez, Bernie & Denise Mayoff, Surendra Mittal, Arun Vittala, Doug Edwards, Rizwan Shaikh, Farrukh Hamid, Sandhya Sarma, Basheer Ahmed, Amer Shakil, Ruben Carlos, Shiraz Mithani, Len Ellis, Lon Burnam, Rita Clarke, Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Ambassador Ahsani and several others.
I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Harbans Lal of Sheshadri Puram, Bangalore, my first boss, who encouraged me to write. That was in 1971 and since then I have written quite a lot. His voice still echoes “you will become a writer” and it's been music to me ever since. Please become that voice to some one. We are a product of what others want us to be, most of the times. If you want a better society, invoke the best in others. It is indeed rewarding.
I express my gratitude to many of my religious friends, but certainly the friendship of these; Rev Frederick Masih, Bishop Hernandes, Bishop McGriff, Swami Nityanand Prabhu, Dr. Karen Hollie, Dr. Pradeep Shah, Angie Buchanan, Gregory Gomez, Dr. Poras Balsara, Firdosh Mehta, Regina Rafraf, Kevin Rafraf, Ben Boothe, Rev. Bill Matthews, Rabbi Robert Haas, Len Ellis, Dr. Harbans Lal, Gregory Gomez, Rev. Marylou Ghyst, Deva Ramsaroop, Tatiana Androsov, Javed Jamil, Howard Cohen, Meera Jain, Muriel Pinkus, Damini Singh, Phyllis Curott, Rabbi Micha’el Akiba, Judi Arkow, Robert Hunt, Ed Sylvest, Hind Jarrah, Mohammad Irtaza, Rizwan Shaikh, Aurn Vittala, Shamim Siddiqi, Asif Effendi, Farrukh Hamid, Suleman Hemani, Farooq Hemani, Shawn Bhagat, David Copeland, Rev. Todd Collier, Bryan Langford, Tona Cervantes, Ricardo cervantes, Aniceto, Dr. Columba Marin, Imam Zia Shaikh, Constance Hargis, Phillip Collins, Phillip Shinoda, Julie Ann Turner, Imam Kavakci, Dr. Ramachandran, Elliott Dlin, Mr. G. Ramkrishna, Imam Zia Kavakci, Imam Abdul Rauf Feisal and Daisy Khan.
Dr. Mohammed Omar Farooq, Hassan Mahmud, Asra Nomani, Zafar Iqbal, Mr. Sher Suleman, Tariq Ramadan, Louay Safi, Dr. Shahnawaz Khan, Reem Alghonimi ...and I will write every name of my friend again in a few days...
Mayors Pat Evans, Mike Simpson, Joe Chow, Bob Townsend, Morris Parrish, Becky Miller, Laura Miller, Ron Kirk, Gary Slagle, Congress persons Pete Sessions and Eddie Bernie Johnson who have been gracious in participating in community building.
My eternal gratitude goes to my teachers Abdul Hakim (grade school), A. Ramachandra (Pre-University), Shabbir Ahmed (Math), NB Hanumanthaiah (College) and MV Chayapathy (College).
I thank all my friends, and friends’ friends who have been a source of inspiration to me. I continue to thank my Radio fans, my Blog and many who occasionally and silently share their goodwill.
When you step out of your home today, and when you run into some one who is down, be kind to them. A genuine smile is the most beautiful thing you can give, nothing compares to it and see the difference you make in their life, and your own.
There is so much goodness around us, if we just look for it instead of what we don't have.
I further express my gratitude to our men and women who are doing their duty to protect our freedom. Please watch the following video about honoring our soldiers. http://www.youtube.com/v/ervaMPt4Ha0&autoplay=1
This year again we missed out the Celebration of thanksgiving for the community at large, I have been doing this for the last fourteen years. I particularly want to thank our indigenous American (also known as Native Americans) brothers and sisters for sustaining this land and giving us all an opportunity to live. We, the inhabitants of Americas owe them our gratitude. We thank them every time and formally every year in the Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations.
Yes, your name is on my mind, I am greatful to every one of you who has been kind, good, critical to me. I found myself unable to write all the names, thousands of good people out there... I assure you, you are on my list and am unable to type any more at this moment, my wrist gives up on me. Yasmeen and Jeff think that I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and may be that is good, it keeps me out of writing all the time.
If you start thinking about all those people who have been good to you, you will start feeling the sense of joy in you, that which comes from gratitude. But I will be reflecting upon all those have been a source of joy to me in the next few days. I have always received goodness from every one I am in contact and want to simply say thank you.
You are welcome to write your comments by clicking - http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/11/thanksgiving-expression-of-gratitude.html#comments
Every one of the nearly five thousand people has touched my life one way or the other and I am grateul to them eternally and will add their name, as my hand permits me to type:
Ann Mary Weiss, Jim Falk, Kim Rice, Sylvia Komatsu, Carol Donavan, Santosh Mittal, Bhupendra Ganatra, Amir Rupani, Dr. Amanullah Khan, Dr. Mohammaed Khalid, David Dixon, Syed Talib, Rich Park, Shabnam Modgil, AG Chini, Monicca Sharma, Sridhar, Rekha, Rehan Siddiqi, Jaipal Reddy, Dr. Sheshagiri Rao, Fakhru Bhai, Shehzad Roy, Rashid Samnakay...
God Bless America
Fort Hood – Allahu Akbar
Those who have the desire to find the truth will understand that this phrase is simply a cue for readiness to start a good thing and acknowledging the greatness of God, inversely it is an expression of humility. Although, in religious conflicts, Christian, Hindus, Muslims and others have made God’s name a battle cry, it should not be used to shoot some one or slit someone's throat. It is uttered when some one sees something great happening like the man landing on the moon, or seeing pictures of the planet earth or when some one is doing well. Allahu Akbar is meant to be used to show one’s humility by admiring the creator, apparently Nidal Hasan, the psycho did not know the difference.
Didn't the murderers who wore Christian labels claim they were doing God’s work killing the Doctors at the Abortion Clinics? Didn't Pat Robertson say that Katrina was God's curse? Didn't Falwell say that Americans are cursed with Katrina for allowing Gay and Lesbians to live their lives? Are these statements to be dis-regarded as the words of these loonies? Had Robertson and Falwell lived in the old west, would they have slaughtered any one who differed? Didn't the Missionaries do the same thing with the indigenous people of America; didn't Ferdinand do to the same to Jews and Muslims in 1492? Thank God, America is the nation of laws that prevents Tancredos, Falwells, Robertsons, and Hagees et al from becoming Bin Laden’s.
It is not the religion; it's the individuals that are a source of conflict. Nuclear energy provides electricity and improves the quality of life, yet the same can be used to destroy millions through bombs. Aren't individuals responsible for this rather than the Nuclear energy?
One cannot kill an intangible thing like religion, punish or imprison it and bring justice to the world. Blaming a religion is no more than barking at the wrong tree.
If I murder someone, incarcerate me; my kids, parents, family, nation or my religion has nothing to do with my crimes. You can punish me and bring justice; you cannot do a thing with religion other than propagating hate and harming the structure of the society.
You can certainly punish the instigators or the individuals committing the crime. Blaming the religion is escapism – a gutlessness to face the problem squarely.
Who is responsible?
The responsibility to bring about harmony falls squarely on the shoulders of Muslims and the society at large equally.
Muslims should be the first ones to be asking why this happens. Should they make an effort to teach every where that Allahu Akbar means humility and not an incitement or a cue to kill as portrayed on the media over and over again? Indeed, the Muslims are doing everything to let the world know that they recognize the problem and are fighting to correct it. All they need is the media to give them a hand, especially the moderate majority and not the radicals.
The Muslims are appalled at this while a few Neocons are rejoicing it; let’s hope that the media reports these happenings proportionately to let the world know the truth.
Who is responsible?
Each one of us.
The society at large needs to ponder, if our words and actions are conflagrating the conflicts or mitigating? Hateful words hurled at any one's family, nation or religion does nothing but aggravate the situation. Each one of us should ask ourselves, what have I done to mitigate conflict? Have we ever thought of looking at other people as "us" rather than "them"? Think about it and make an effort and see the difference it makes in your life... you may actually become a peace maker, if that frightens you.
We need to think about Religion once again; the teachings of Jesus, Moses, Krishna, Mohammad, Bahaullah, Nanak, Buddha, Mahavir, Zarathustra, Confucius and great many spiritual leaders. They taught the golden rules - treat others as you would wanted to be treated. Loving brings peace, hating messes up every one. Forgiveness brings peace to us, anger destroys ourselves. Religion is not needed to do this; however, it is major source of shaping one's lives.
Start thinking of caring for others and it will make a difference, if it has, please share it.
1. Psychology Today writes, major Nidal, why did he do it?
2. Allahu Akbar, a poem by Matthew Moes, the first person to comment on this page
3. Senseless shooting violated Islamic faith
4. Fort Hood shooter attacked Muslims too
5. My notes from a meeting with Dallas Peace Center
# # #
Fort hood - Is it individual or the religion
Was the Fort Hood mayhem caused by religious motivation or was the individual solely responsible?
The right wing media finds it easy to collude with the Neocons, who are obsessed with hating some one or the other and Muslims have reappeared on their radar since first deliberate mistranslation of Quraan in Latin by Robert of Ketton in 1143 and paint Muslims negatively for their gains. The Neocons find it convenient to blame Islam and Muslims, and their gullible team goes to work and cooks up justifications.
Dave Gaubatz in an interview says, "Malik Nidal Hasan is a terrorist supporting the ideology of Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and yes, CAIR. Ken Eisold writes in the Psychology Magazine, “Some politicians are quick to speculate that it might be a plot, but some conservative commentators, not waiting for evidence, have concluded that Hasan is a "trained terrorist."
No criminal should be spared; the rule of law must prevail. Major Nidal Hasan’s crime should be dealt with accordingly.
It is our duty as a nation to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the many sources of disrupting peace in a society and it is our responsibility to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. Bringing harmony should be our consistent goal. Each one of has an obligation to maintain a balance in the society.
A decade ago, in the very same town Killeen some loony walked into Luby’s cafeteria and randomly killed 23 people dining in peace, a crazy opened the fire in McDonalds in San Diego and I believe he killed 21 people. They were people with real or imagined grievances against society who went on indiscriminate rampages, but they did not make any claims of motivation by religion or any religious group. A white supremacist and a Holocaust denier opened the fire in the Holocaust Museum in DC and there are umpteen incidences like that.
So why do they pick Islam?
Sadly, it is because Major Nidal Hasan uttered the phrase “Allahu Akbar” before opening the fire. Didn't the murderers who wore Christian labels claim they were doing God’s work killing the Doctors at the Abortion Clinics? Didn't Pat Robertson say that Katrina was God's curse? Didn't Falwell say that we are cursed because we allowed Gay and Lesbians to live their lives? Should we dis-regard the words of these loonies? Had Robertson and Falwell lived in the old west, would they have slaughtered any one who differed? Didn't the Missionaries do the same thing with the indigenous people of America; didn't Ferdinand do to the same to Jews and Muslims in 1492?
Nidal Hasan said “Allahu Akbar”. Those who have the desire to find the truth will understand that this phrase is simply a cue for readiness to start a good thing and acknowledging the greatness of God, inversely it is an expression of humility. Although, in religious wars, Christian, Hindus, Muslims and others have made God’s name a battle cry, it should not been said to shoot some one or slit someone's throat. It should uttered when some one saw something great happening like the man landing on the moon, or seeing pictures of the planet earth or when some one is doing well. Allahu Akbar is meant to be used to show one’s humility by admiring the creator, apparently Nidal Hasan, the psycho did not know the difference.
Unfortunately, there is a pattern here by those murderers who recite the name of God, as murderers wearing different religious labels have done it.
Who is responsible?
The responsibility to bring about harmony falls squarely on the shoulders of Muslims and the society at large equally.
Muslims should be the first ones to be asking why does this happen? Should they make an effort to teach every where that Allahu Akbar means humility and not an incitement or a cue to kill as portrayed on the media over and over again? Indeed, the Muslims are doing everything to let the world know that they recognize the problem and are fighting to correct it. They need the media to give them a hand, especially the moderate majority.
The Muslims are appalled at this while a few ugly ones are rejoicing it, let’s hope that the media reports these happenings proportionately to let the world know the truth.
So why do they pick on Islam?
The Republicans are a loosing lot, they are not in tune with the Americans and resorting to a variety of tactics, they needed something to latch on to even if it is not truthful. They are letting the extremists among them speak for their party, hoping that a few nincompoops will lend support for their anti-Muslim rhetoric; sadly it sells and brings funding to these extremists.
It is déjà vue and similar to believing that Osama bin Laden was elected to speak for Islam, they are letting their evil men and women speak for the Republican Party and I am still a Republican Party member.
Those few handful and their cronies like Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Savage and others love these tragic situations. These vultures feed on bad news to up their ratings, shame on those who watch them and give them their bounties.
One cannot kill an intangible thing like religion, punish or imprison it and bring justice. Blaming the religion is no more than barking at the wrong tree. You can certainly punish the instigators or the individuals committing the crime. If I murder someone, incarcerates me; my kids, my parents, family, my nation or religion has nothing to do with my crimes. You can punish me and bring justice; you cannot do a thing with religion other than propagating hate and harming the structure of the society. Blaming the religion is escapism – a gutlessness to face the problem squarely.
Mike Ghouse is a founder of the World Muslim Congress, committed to be a voice of the moderate majority. He is writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, co-existence, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/
Friday, November 6, 2009
Fort Hood Tragedy
No one has a right to take another persons life.
Every religion condemns and discourages killing.
Alas, we the humans understand this and work on
individuals going through a trauma of their own lives
and help them into become productive Citizens instead.
We have to remember that it is the individuals who
do good things and it is the individuals who do bad things,
we have to hold the individuals responsible for their acts
not their parents, kids, sibling or others.
May God bless the souls of the victims and, May God
give patience to their family members.
I am pleased to invite you to a conversation on the subject
on Saturday 9:00 AM at La Madeliene on Mokingbird
at Central Expressway in Dallas.
Senseless shootings violate Islamic faith
By Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
On Faith at washingtonpost.com
The Huffington Post
November 6, 2009
I was so deeply saddened by the events at Fort Hood, Texas, yesterday. My prayers and sympathy are with the families of those brave American soldiers who were killed and wounded in this senseless act.
What this unfortunate Army major did was against the laws of Islam, even though news accounts said he was an observant Muslim. It is too early to understand his motivations and mental stability. He obviously was violating his faith when he undertook this act. Killing is as much a sin in Islam as it is in Christianity, Judaism and all the major religions. Taking the law into one's own hands is against Islamic teachings.
We do not know how our soldiers will react under the stresses of war. It is something that we as religious leaders should take seriously as we minister to our troops.
I am concerned that this incident will cause some Americans to react against the Islamic faith and Muslim Americans. Our fellow Americans should understand that every major American Muslim organization has condemned it in no uncertain terms. Thousands of American Muslims serve in the U.S. armed forces, and they are essential to the U.S. goal of bringing peace, stability and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. They are supported by millions of American Muslims.
This is a time for all Americans to draw together in our grief and sympathy for the victims of this senseless act, and to support the care and well-being of our troops with the hope that they will soon be able to return home.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, an independent, non-partisan and multi-national project that seeks to use religion to improve Muslim-West relations. (www.cordobainitiative.org) He is the author of "What's Right with Islam is What's Right With America."
By Muqtedar Khan
Director of Islamic Studies, University of Delaware
The American Muslim community is experiencing shock, disbelief and apprehension as it watches the unfolding details of the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist and practicing Muslim, born in Virginia of Jordanian parents, turned against his fellow citizens and military colleagues and murdered 13 and wounded 30.
What happened at Fort Hood follows a nightmare script that has been one of the biggest fears of the American Muslim community since the appalling events of September 11, 2001. One crazy Muslim, acting on his own, causing significant mayhem and murder and inviting anger and backlash against millions of peace loving and hardworking Americans who are Muslims. National and local Muslim organizations immediately issued strong condemnation of the event and called for calm.
It is important to understand that Major Hasan is an isolated, alienated and sad individual who was clearly not well adjusted to his life. In a community that values family life, he was single at 39 and still looking desperately for a wife, according to his former Imam. He was in an army that was at war with his co-religionists and he had difficulty dealing with that. He was frequently taunted and harassed for being a Muslim by his own colleagues. After years in the military and after years of caring for soldiers as a doctor, he did not feel as if he belonged and perhaps that was the key to why he could turn on his own.
This tragic episode presents serious dilemmas and challenges for both Muslim community organizations as well as for law enforcement and counter-terrorism agencies. Muslim organizations do not know how to explain this and the law enforcement agencies will be puzzling over how to understand it.
This was an unpredictable and isolated episode, impossible to anticipate and guard against. Hasan is an American-born, highly educated, long-term military man who simply snapped with devastating consequences. How do we anticipate this and prevent it? The Fort Hood shooting reminds me of the Columbine shooting; shocking and unexpected. On scrutiny after the fact one discovers warning signs but not enough to trigger action before it happened.
Since the election of President Obama, Islamophobic rhetoric was on the decline as people in key administrative positions abstained from using "Islamic" as a prefix when talking about issues related with the war on terror. But this episode will once again provide fodder for talk shows and websites, which exploit such isolated events to ratchet up Islamophobia.
Muslims across the country have been working hard to build bridges with mainstream America, to establish interfaith relations and carve out a place for the community on main street America. Hasan not only fired at unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood, but he also attacked the very foundations of all these bridges across the country. His actions will definitely weaken if not completely undermine the efforts of thousands of Americans to build bridges of peace and understanding.
According to some estimates there are over 10,000 Muslims in the U.S. military who serve loyally, with sincere and complete commitment. Many Muslims in the U.S. military have died fighting for America. General Colin Powell once spoke so eloquently about Cpl. Kareem Khan, a Purple Heart, who had died fighting for America. Let us hope that Major Hasan's dastardly actions do not hurt the careers of the thousands of Kareem Khans proudly serving in U.S. military.
There is nothing that American Muslims can do to prevent such events. But we must now allow them to weaken our resolve to combat extremism, prejudice and ignorance in our society. We must redouble our efforts to continue to share the message of peace, tolerance and pluralism that is fundamental to Islamic believes to our congregations and our communities.
The tragedy at Fort Hood is a major test for Muslims and Americans. They must face the challenge with determination. Muslims must not allow it to force them to recede from the public sphere and from their struggle for understanding, for civil rights and against religious profiling and Islamophobia. Americans must not allow this isolated event to fall back on stereotypes about Islam and resuscitate the prejudices that all of us have worked so hard to curb.
Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and a Fellow of the Institute for Social policy and Understanding.
WASHINGTON, DC (MASNET) Nov. 6, 2009 – MAS Freedom (MASF), on behalf of and as the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), joins the chorus of American Muslim voices nationwide in condemnation of the tragic attack perpetrated against U.S. military personnel at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, where soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving 13 persons dead and 30 wounded on November 5, 2009.
"As an organization and as Muslim Americans, we stand in condemnation of Thursday's assault in the strongest terms possible," echoed MAS Freedom Executive Director, Mahdi Bray Thursday evening at a press conference in Washington, D.C.
"Let us be cautious, however, in drawing conclusions based on the ethnicity of the perpetrator of this tragic incident. A full investigation, is, of course, underway; however, as in any case, the perpetuation of negativity in such instances often unwittingly serves as an equally unnecessary exacerbation of the atmosphere of hate, violence and Islamophia under which the Muslim community already exists," stated MAS Freedom Executive Director Mahdi Bray.
Bray added, "Indeed this is a national tragedy and our American family is in mourning. Like any family in a time of crisis and tragedy, we will not turn on each other, but rather, toward each other as a source of strength and comfort."
Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old Muslim, Virginia-born Army major and psychiatrist, set to be deployed to Iraq, is reported to be responsible for the worst mass killing on a U.S. military base; the second shooting incident in recent history at the base this year.
Another shooting incident occurred at Fort Hood on September 8, 2008. Specialist Jody Michael Wirawan, 22, of Eagle River, Alabama, who was scheduled to be discharged, fatally shot 1st Lieutenant Robert Bartlett Fletcher, 24, of Jensen Beach, Florida. When police arrived, Wirawan turned his gun on himself and died on the scene.
An emerging profile indicates that Major Hasan, who, prior to being transferred to Fort Hood six-years ago, served and did his psychiatric internship at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center, may, himself, have suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Major Hasan, whose family members have stated endured name-calling and harassment about his Muslim faith for years, is further described as a 'mostly very quiet', devoutly religious person, often seen attending prayers at a local mosque in uniform, while stationed in Washington. Retired Army Col. Terry Lee, is reported to have stated that Major Hasan never spoke ill of the military or his country, however, he had expressed hopes that President Barack Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq and that Major Hasan had been proactively vocal in his opposition to the wars, in addition to having sought legal counsel in working to detach himself from the military.
MAS Freedom continues to urge and support its ongoing call for an end to the wars and deployments that have led to numerous severe mental health problems among U.S. soldiers, including mental depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, violence against spouses and family members, in addition to suicide; illnesses that reportedly affect some 20 percent of the troops returning from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
According to Pentagon figures, Fort Hood has the highest suicide rate over any Army base in the country, with 75 soldiers taking their own lives since 2003; an additional 32 Fort Hood soldiers have reportedly attempted, but thankfully failed, to take their own lives.
The San Antonio News-Express reported last August that the number of suicides at Fort Hood 'has been 26 per 100,000 people from 2006 to 2008, far above the civilian rate of 14.06 per 100,000'. The report further states that in addition to Fort Hood, Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Fort Bragg, North Carolina collectively logged 125 suicides in the same period, for a total of 183 since 2003.
MAS Freedom North Carolina Director Khalilah Sabra stated, "Most soldiers are aware of combat stress reactions from their training and from Army education campaigns. Reportedly, over 70 percent of soldiers have complained of war-related stress and have sought help for serious problems. These emotional health issues are intensified by long and multiple deployments in places that witness death and the violence of constant combat."
MAS Freedom further calls on our nation's Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, to step-up efforts to insure more effective mental healthcare for soldiers experiencing chronic stress and mental instability as the ongoing campaign for health care reform continues.
Fort Hood commander Lieutenant General Bob Cone, has confirmed that contrary to earlier reports, Major Hasan was not fatally wounded in the incident and is currently in custody and in stable condition.
Also previously reported as being fatally wounded, was a civilian police woman and first responder on the scene, who has received surgical treatment for her injuries and is in stable condition.
A ceremony to honor the dead will take place at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where the bodies have been taken for autopsies.
"As American Muslims we join our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured," stated Bray.
Inquiries or requests for information can be made by contacting MAS Freedom at (202) 552-7414, (703) 642-6165 or 1-888-627-8471 or sending an email to: info @ masfreedom.org.
ASSOCIATION OF PATRIOTIC ARAB AMERICANS IN MILITARY
"Patriotic Arab Americans Making A Difference"
STATEMENT ON FORT HOOD SHOOTINGS FROM ASSOCIATION OF PATRIOTIC ARAB AMERICANS IN THE MILITARY
At a time of deep sorrow in the midst of this horrific tragedy, our thoughts are first and foremost with the Fort Hood shooting victims and their families. One can only imagine the unspeakable pain and loss they are and will be dealing with in the weeks, months and years to come.
It is unfortunate that whatever demons possessed Nidal Hasan, that he chose to deal with his problems in this way.
In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, it is more important than ever that we not make the same scapegoating and broad stroke mistakes that were evident in the aftermath of previous tragedies.
The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military urges the media, government officials and all of our fellow Americans to recognize that the actions of Hasan are those of a deranged gunman, and are in no way representative of the wider Arab American or American Muslim community.
In fact, thousands of Arab Americans and American Muslims serve honorably everyday in all four branches of the U.S. military and in the National Guard. Additionally, many of us have willingly stepped forward to fulfill our duty with our fellow soldiers in both Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the globe for the defense of our national security, including most of the member of APAAM. Indeed, many of us are today currently deployed in both countries, honorably serving each and every day.
The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military (APAAM) was created shortly after September 11th, 2001, in an effort to organize current and former Arab- Americans in the military to highlight the service and contributions dating back to the Revolutionary War. There are approximately 3,500 Arab- Americans serving in our Armed Forces.