Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ramadan Reflections

A few questions are answered here; why do we celebrate on different days? What is it with the Moon? How do you greet Muslims on this day? What kind of culinary delights are out there? How do Muslims celebrate in different parts of the world?  Ramadan TV Commercials? A bit of politics too.
I urge Muslims around the world to take a minute to stop and appreciate the men and women who serve our nation, police, firefighters and others who are out there for the safety of individuals and families.  I have done this time and again, and I always remember the Louisville experience, where the police officer asked me to forward the email to him, asking Muslims to appreciate them, and after the Eid prayers, he had forwarded it to many police officers.  I urge Muslim organizations to issue a press release to this effect, and this is our appeal from the World Muslim Congress, a think tank committed to building a cohesive America.
Pluralism is alive and kicking in Islam – i.e., respecting the otherness of others! Indeed, there are many schools of thought, and the good clergymen always point out the different traditions, Dr. Imam Kavakci, one of the leading Muslim Scholars, always advised on that basis.  It is up to the individual to follow what he or she is conditioned or comfortable with.  The non-pluralistic Muslims resort to name calling the others who take a different path. But all of them celebrate the festival.
A month-long fasting should clean up our bodies, hearts, and souls, it means you are no biased towards anyone, you have no wall between you and another human and that you are committed to peace and harmony.  What others do to you does not matter, but how you behave towards others is all that matters in making America great again. By the way, I am an independent, and not a Republican or a Democrat and I am a Pluralist Muslim, like a majority of Muslims – i.e., respecting the otherness of others, and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of his beautiful creation.
Mike Ghouse
When is the Eid? Ramadan Celebrations?  Is it Friday, Saturday or even Sunday? For some, it will depend on when the moon (first day) is sighted.
Pluralism is alive and kicking in Islam – i.e, respecting the otherness of others! Indeed, there are many schools of thought, and the good clergymen always point out the different traditions, Dr. Imam Kavakci always advised on that basis.  It is up to the individual to follow what he or she is conditioned or comfortable with.  The non-pluralistic Muslims resort to name calling the others who take a different path. But all of them celebrate the festival.
Since the beginning of Islam, there have been debates as to what constitutes moon sighting. Some interpret that there has got to be a minion to declare that they have seen it themselves with their own eyes, while others do not accept it unless they have seen it themselves. It is also acceptable if the moon is sighted elsewhere, but now, each group has to have their own moon sighting. In the United States, there is an organization that monitors moon sighting and announces it in advance. Over the millennium we learned to accept and respect the otherness of other.
Politics plays a crucial role in our Temples, Synagogues or Churches, Mosques are no different. A few scientifically-inclined-Muslims have adopted NASA’s calculations believed to be precise. However, four different traditions are operating concurrently; i) Strictly Calendar, ii) NASA  iii) Sighting with bare eyes and iv) sighting by others in the community.
The NASA-oriented and the Calendar-group miss out the fun, joy, and exhilaration of waiting and watching the needle thin moon on the horizon. The whole family gets out on the rooftops, or higher grounds, some even climb electric poles, and a few will drive out where they can see the sky without obstacles, kids would climb on parent’s shoulders, and a few go from place to place shouting in excitement, did you see it? It is like the belief in Santa Claus, Angels, and other myths, each tradition fulfills one’s emotional needs and every one becomes sentimental. After all, if celebration does not have the excitement, it is not a celebration.
America’s spirit of freedom touches every soul, no matter what religion or tradition they follow. American Muslims are no different, they prefer to have a pre-set date to start fasting and the celebration called “Eid” pronounced as Eeed as in Eeel. The idea is for them to take a day off from work or get an optional day off for their children from the schools. Always, the joy multiplies when the family and friends celebrate it together. They prefer to start on a pre-set date and trust the calculations.
The conflicts are the same everywhere on the earth. Each group subscribes to one of the four systems mentioned above. America is no different; you will find celebrations on one or three different days in any given city, the Sunnis, being the largest group has the greater division within, while the Sufis, Shias, Ismailis, WD Mohammad, Bohra and Ahmadiyya follow the pre-determined dates.
The consensus may be attributable to having central spiritual leadership in all groups except the Sunni. However like the American Public wishes to see the Republicans and Democrats drop the party lines and focus on what is good for America, the Muslims also wish they could celebrate the Eid on one single day. It ain’t going to happen, it is human to differ. It is against the spirit of Ramadan to denigrate, diminish and devalue other practices.
The essence of Ramadan is to become humble, simple and free from ill-will, anger, meanness, and hate. Let’s fill our hearts with goodwill and honor Ramadan by saying “Eid Mubarak” or Happy Eid to everyone who celebrates on a different day in the same town. The essence of Ramadan is joy and let’s not prick the bubble; God has not signed a pact with anyone behind other’s back to favor one and disfavor the other.  Let’s allow God to be an honest God who is just, kind, merciful and loving as Quran says. Let’s rejoice the differences of interpretations. If you want to celebrate every day, go to every celebration.
In the spirit of Ramadan, I pray that Ramadan gets into our hearts and minds and make us embrace all factions of Muslims without undermining their tradition and further pray that we treat every human on the earth with dignity, respect, and care.
The Shia-Sunni conflict we see in Iraq is new to both groups of Muslims, conflicts have always been there but the violence in conflict took birth after we (The Americans) invaded Iraq and sowed the seeds of division. Shamefully, the Shia and Sunni played it out. Our short-sighted foreign policy is pitting Saudi Arabia against Iran. Iran is not a threat to anyone, it is the false propaganda by Netanyahu, and salesmanship of defense contractors to sell Arms to Saudi, and the stupid Saudi monarchs have bought the idea, I wish we can sell peace and democratic education that will benefit us all in the long haul. I wish, the leadership of these two nations make a bold move and meet in Singapore and hash out the differences.  I also wish in the spirit of Ramadan, the Pakistani people will wake up and correct the ugliness in their constitution that shamelessly discriminate Ahmadiyya Muslims. Above all, I wish Muslims chose to follow the foundation of Islam; Amin, that is caring for every human being and seeking peace and harmony by respecting the otherness of others.
That is indeed the wisdom expressed in 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 God, is the best in conduct. God Knows and is Aware of everything you do.”

MUSLIMS MUST DO THIS

I urge Muslims around the world to take a minute to stop and appreciate the men and women who serve our nation, police, firefighters and others who are out there for the safety of individuals and families.  I have done this time and again, and I always remember the Louisville experience, where the police officer asked me to forward the email to him, asking Muslims to appreciate them, and after the Eid prayers, he had forwarded it to many police officers.

WHAT ELSE? 

Everything you always wanted to know about Ramadan is here at www.RamadanNews.com
Ramadan Commercials by McDonald at http://ramadannews.com/ramadan-commercials/
What does God want? http://ramadannews.com/happy-ramadan-what-does-god-really-want/
You can also read “The Rituals of Ramadan” followed by the “Spirit of Ramadan”.
Usually, Arabic Speaking people call it Ramadan, all others call is Ramzan, both are acceptable terms.
There should be at least 100 ways of wishing the festivities:
Ramadan Mubarak!
Salamat Hari Raya
Eid Mubarak
İyi Ramazanlar
Ramadan Kareem
Hayırlı Ramazanlar
Hoşgeldin Ramazan,
Happy Eid-ul-fitr
If you know the greetings in any other langauge, please send an email to MuslimVision2020@gmail.com to be included for the next Eid.
      
                     
Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day through the Center for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and its affiliate sites including www.RamadanNews.com and www.MuslimSpeaker.com and www.InterfaithSpeaker.com
Moderate Islam Speaker

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Quranic guidance on Muslim Behavior

I am glad to see the new writings about Islam, Quran and the Prophet, all fully employ common sense embedded in Quran.  Thanks to Afreen Rizvi for compiling these verses
Mike Ghouse
Muslim Speaker
59 examples of how the Quran tells Muslims to behave
By Afreen Rizvi Courtesy – The Muslim Vibe
The Qur’an was revealed by Allah in order for mankind to be guided. Below are 59 instructions that have been directly ordained upon us through the Holy Quran:

1. Do not be rude in speech

“So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].” – The Holy Quran 3:159

2. Restrain Anger

“Who spend [in the cause of Allah] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good.” – The Holy Quran 3:134

3. Be good to others

“Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.” – The Holy Quran 4:36

4. Do not be arrogant

“[Allah] said, “Descend from Paradise, for it is not for you to be arrogant therein. So get out; indeed, you are of the debased.” – The Holy Quran 7:13

5. Forgive others for their mistakes

“Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant.” – The Holy Quran 7:199

6. Speak to people mildly

“And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah].” – The Holy Quran 20:44

7. Do not ridicule one another

“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”  – The Holy Quran 49:11

8. Do not say a word of disrespect to your parents

“Say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word” – The Holy Quran 17:23

9. Do not follow anyone blindly

“And when it is said to them, ‘Follow what Allah has revealed,’ they say, ‘Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.’ Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?” – The Holy Quran 2:170

10. Grant more time to repay if the debtor is in hard times

“And if someone is in hardship, then [let there be] postponement until [a time of] ease. But if you give [from your right as] charity, then it is better for you, if you only knew.” – The Holy Quran 2:280

11. Do not engage in bribery

“And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful].” – The Holy Quran 2:188

12. Do not break promises

“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” – The Holy Quran 2:177

13. Stand out firmly for justice

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” – The Holy Quran 4:135

14. Women also have the right for inheritance

“And for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much – an obligatory share.” – The Holy Quran 4:7

15. Protect orphans

“To this world and the Hereafter. And they ask you about orphans. Say, “Improvement for them is best. And if you mix your affairs with theirs – they are your brothers. And Allah knows the corrupter from the amender. And if Allah had willed, He could have put you in difficulty. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” – The Holy Quran 2:220

16. Do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly

O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful. – The Holy Quran 4:29

17. Try for settlement between people

“And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah . And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” – The Holy Quran 49:9

18. Avoid assumption

“O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin.” – The Holy Quran 49:12

19. Do not spy and backbite

And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful- The Holy Quran 49:12

20. Spend wealth in charity

“Believe in Allah and His Messenger and spend out of that in which He has made you successors. For those who have believed among you and spent, there will be a great reward.” – The Holy Quran 57:7

21. Help those in need by finding them

“[Charity is] for the poor who have been restricted for the cause of Allah , unable to move about in the land. An ignorant [person] would think them self-sufficient because of their restraint, but you will know them by their [characteristic] sign. They do not ask people persistently [or at all]. And whatever you spend of good – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” – The Holy Quran 2:273

22. Speak to the needy kindly

“And if you [must] turn away from the needy awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect, then speak to them a gentle word.” – The Holy Quran 17:28

23. Honour your guests

“Then he turned quickly to his household, brought out a roasted fattened calf, and placed it before them.  He said: ‘Will you not eat?’”- The Holy Quran 51:26

24. Be dutiful towards your parents

“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you.” – The Holy Quran 17:23

25. Practice what you preach

“Do you order righteousness of the people and forget yourselves while you recite the Scripture? Then will you not reason?” – The Holy Quran 2:44

26. Stay away from corruption

“Eat and drink from the provision of Allah , and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption.”- The Holy Quran 2:60

27. Fight only with those who fight you

“Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.” – The Holy Quran 2:190

28. Keep striving

“And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives” – The Holy Quran 53:39

29. There is no compulsion in religion

“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” – The Holy Quran 2:256

30. Choose rulers by their merit

“And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, Allah has sent to you Saul as a king.” They said, “How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him and he has not been given any measure of wealth?” He said, “Indeed, Allah has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And Allah gives His sovereignty to whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing [in favor] and Knowing.”” – The Holy Quran 2:247

31. Do not burden a person beyond his scope

“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.”” – The Holy Quran 2:286

32. Do not become divided

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.” – The Holy Quran 3:103

33. Men and Women have equal rewards for their deeds

And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another. So those who emigrated or were evicted from their homes or were harmed in My cause or fought or were killed – I will surely remove from them their misdeeds, and I will surely admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow as reward from Allah , and Allah has with Him the best reward.” – The Holy Quran 3:195

34. Do not be miserly

“Who are stingy and enjoin upon [other] people stinginess and conceal what Allah has given them of His bounty – and We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment.” – The Holy Quran 4:37

35. Do not be envious

“Or do they envy people for what Allah has given them of His bounty? But we had already given the family of Abraham the Scripture and wisdom and conferred upon them a great kingdom.” – The Holy Quran 4:54

36. Do not be an advocate for deceit

“Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which Allah has shown you. And do not be for the deceitful an advocate.” – The Holy Quran 4:105

37. Stay away from sin and aggression

“… but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.” – The Holy Quran 5:2

38. Be just

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah , witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” – The Holy Quran 5:8

39. Avoid intoxicants and alcohol

“O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.” – The Holy Quran 5:90

40. Do not gamble

“Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?” – The Holy Quran 5:91

41. Do not insult others’ deities

“And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do.” – The Holy Quran 6:108

42. Eat and Drink, But Be Not Excessive

“O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.” – The Holy Quran 7:31

43. Protect and help those who seek protection

“And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah . Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.” – The Holy Quran 9:6

44. Allah will forgive those who have done wrong out of ignorance

“Then, indeed your Lord, to those who have done wrong out of ignorance and then repent after that and correct themselves – indeed, your Lord, thereafter, is Forgiving and Merciful.” – The Holy Quran 16:119

45. Invitation to God should be with wisdom and good instruction

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” – The Holy Quran 16:125

46. Do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge

“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.” – The Holy Quran 17.36

47. Keep aloof from what is vain

“And they who turn away from ill speech” – The Holy Quran 23:3

48. Do not enter others’ houses without seeking permission

“O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded.” – The Holy Quran 24:27

49. Walk on earth with humility

“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace” – The Holy Quran 25:63

50. Judge with justice between people

“Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.” – The Holy Quran 4:58

51. Do not neglect your portion of this world

“But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” – The Holy Quran 28:77

52. Enjoin right, forbid wrong

“O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.” – The Holy Quran 31:17

53. Do not walk in insolence through the earth

“And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.” – The Holy Quran 31:18

54. Women should not display their finery

“And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance. And establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet’s] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.” – The Holy Quran 33:33

55. Do not despair of the mercy of Allah

“Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah.” – The Holy Quran 39:53

56. Decide on affairs by consultation

“And those who have responded to their lord and established prayer and whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves, and from what We have provided them, they spend.” – The Holy Quran 42:38

57. The most noble of you is the most righteous

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” – The Holy Quran 49:13

58. Act justly to people of all faiths

“Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” – The Holy Quran 60:8

59. Seek forgiveness of Allah. He is Forgiving and Merciful

“And whatever good you put forward for yourselves – you will find it with Allah . It is better and greater in reward. And seek forgiveness of Allah . Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” – The Holy Quran 73:20
Inshallah we all benefit from this and continue to remain on the path of guidance!
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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Quran (Koran) Translations

The first Quran was translated in the year 1142, and it was commissioned by the European Kings to Paint Islam as a bad religion, and they frightened their subjects that Muhammad was going to slaughter the people of Europe if they don't stand up against the advancing Arab armies.  The work was carried out by the French Abbey for a fee.  They coined word the word "Mohammedan" religion for Islam.

It is a big story I would like to tell, as it is easier than writing it out. Please read the full story with many videos and write-ups at www.QuraanConference.com.

Quran is a book of guidance in building cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear or apprehension of the other; it is as simple as that.  I usually refer to at least 5 different translations to get the essence of a single verse, and of course, our formula to understand the Quran is to read three verses before and three verses after a given verse to understand the context and meaning behind the verse.

However, every faith including yours has a % of people who do things that go against the very teaching of the faith they claim to espouse. That is an insignificant number and less than 1/10th of 1% of any group.

Over the years, I have collected about 20 different translations for reference.  A few are in this picture.  I have also visited the Library of Congress and checked Jefferson's copy of Quran translation by George Sale. 

You may like this article in Dallas Morning News;


In defense of Islam, pursuing a civil dialogue

By Steve Blow, sblow@dallasnews.com Published 19 September 2010 02:28 AM
Over and over you hear it said: If Muslims oppose terrorism, why don't they stand up and say it?

If that has been you, Mike Ghouse ought to be your hero.

It is hard to imagine that anyone has worked harder than the Carrollton resident to demonstrate the peaceful and moderate side of Islam.

And that effort includes personally visiting Dallas' First Baptist Church last Sunday just to put a friendly face on the "evil, evil religion" that the Rev. Robert Jeffress denounced a few weeks before.

"It was wonderful," Ghouse said of the visit. "We were so warmly received."
He hopes a quick chat with Jeffress will be the start of a deeper discussion about Islam and the importance of respect between religions.

"I want to have a dialogue with him, not to say he is wrong but to share another point of view," Ghouse said.

The 57-year-old Muslim was born in India and has lived in the United States for 30 years. He owns a small property management firm. But most of his day is devoted to building bridges between people of different faiths.

"It is my passion," he said in his distinctive raspy voice.

He has been a guest a dozen times on Sean Hannity's TV and radio talk shows. "I don't like the way Sean cuts me off, but I have to honor him for giving the American public a semblance of another point of view."

Ghouse said he can understand fear and criticism of Islam because he went through a time of similar feelings. As a teen, he was troubled by passages of the Quran. He called himself an atheist for a while.

But he said deeper study led him to realize the Quran had been purposely mistranslated down through history.

In the Middle Ages, European leaders commissioned a hostile Quran translation to foster warfare against Muslim invaders.

Later, Muslim leaders produced another translation to inflame Muslims against Christians and Jews.

"It was all for politics," he said.

Ghouse said he hopes to present Jeffress with a modern, faithful translation and challenge him to find evil verses.

"If he can, I will convert. I will join his church," Ghouse said. "If he can't, I will call on him to retract his statements and become a peacemaker."

Ghouse acknowledges that deep problems persist within Islam. "Three steps forward, two steps back," he said with a sigh.

And he agrees that mainstream Muslims have not done enough to counter violent images of their faith.

"That is very true," he said. "But part of it is that many Muslims have given up hope that we will ever be heard."

He said repeated denunciations of terrorism seem to fall on deaf ears.

And some efforts have backfired – like the proposed Islamic information center in New York. He said it should be hailed for furthering the moderate Muslim cause.

Instead, it has deepened hostility toward Muslims.

I have been astounded by the amount of anti-Islam propaganda that circulates via e-mail. Tons of it has come my way in the last few weeks.

One theme is that people like Mike Ghouse can't be trusted, that Islam encourages deception.

But Ghouse says actions speak louder than words. And he points to elections in Muslim nations.

More than half of Muslims live in countries with some degree of democracy. And time and time again, Islamist parties are overwhelmingly rejected in favor of secular, mainstream parties.

"The religious parties don't get more than 3 percent of the vote," Ghouse said.

Polls show deep mistrust of Muslims. "But the most important question in those surveys is: ‘Do you know anything about Islam?' " Ghouse said. "Most people say no."
What keeps him going is faith in Americans, he said.

"The majority of Americans, if they know the truth, they will change their minds."



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www.MuslimSpeaker.com
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, writer, thinker, futurist and an activist of Pluralism, Islam, India and Civil Societies passionately offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Quran - a new American Translation by Nasr

Quran - A new American Translation | www.WorldMuslimCongress.com

Indeed there are nearly 300 English translations in the market now, and each one reflects the experiences of the translator, as it should.
 Each translation slightly differs from the other, fulfilling what Prophet Muhammad wanted, to paraphrase him, " I am leaving this book for you to read and understand." The emphasis was “YOU,” Mind you, he did not assign an interpreter to refer to, and instead he expected each one will use his personal reference to understand the book while maintaining the central theme – building cohesive societies– Islam is also called the religion of human nature. 

Mike Ghouse
www.MuslimSpeaker.com 
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The American Quran Pissing Off the Saudis
The Study Quran
 puts this great religious work in historical perspective.
A new translation of the Quran, with commentary, is causing a stir—and maybe something of a revolution—in the world of English-speaking Muslims.
Why’s that? Because Salafists—adherents of a very conservative brand of Islam—have dominated the world market for Qurans for decades.
Funded by the oil-rich royal family in Saudi Arabia, which has an especially rigid Wahhabi branch of Islam, the Salafis have exported their teachers, their mosques, their audio and video productions, and religious texts across the Arab world and into Pakistan, Europe, and North America, quashing alternate interpretations that don’t fit their narrow views.
Seeing this new translation as a challenge to their orthodoxy in English-speaking countries, Salafis are none too pleased. In online discussions and reviews, influential Salafis are panning the volume, called The Study Quran,  as a soft-bellied facsimile that might be fine for academia, but not fit for following.
In fact, this no mere academic debate. Followers of the Saudi-Wahhabi-Salafi version of Islam in Europe and the United States are increasingly seen by law enforcement as a pool from which radical jihadis can draw recruits.
Some strains of this Salafi interpretation have popularized takfirism—the practice by which some Muslims declare that others are not true believers. The aftereffects are clear in fringe jihadi groups like the self-declared caliphate that calls itself the Islamic State, where those who believe differently are deemed apostates who can be, and are, slaughtered en masse. The vast majority of Salafis are not jihadis and not takfiris. But those who are use their understanding of their Quran to justify killing Shia Muslims, Yazidis, adulterers, gays, and anyone else who runs afoul of their zealotry.
Generations of the world’s Muslims have, now, grown up in the shadow of this Saudi religious empire, ignoring previous centuries of rigorous religious discourse, debate, and dissent.
The Study Quran, setting the record straight, may come as something of a revelation to Muslims and anyone else interested in Islam who speaks English. It is a formidable academic endeavor, and since it was published in November it has been flying off the shelves in a massive hardback edition. (It is also available now on Kindle.
The  editors have compiled a new translation, new commentary, and drawn on dozens of the most prominentmufassirs (interpreters or exegetes), many of whom have never before been accessible to an English-speaking audience. Indeed, “very few” of the sources cited in The Study Quran are available in English translation, head editor Seyyed Hossein Nasr told The Daily Beast.One soon comes across nuances that are unmentioned or ignored by extremists. The Study Quran notes, for instance, that verse 47:4—used by ISIS to justify beheadings—focuses on “the brevity of the act, as it is confined to battle and not a continuous command.” This interpretation would seem to challenge extremists who attempt to carry out such acts on civilians, whether on the streets of London or in Syria.
The Salafi scholars who have monopolized English-language Muslim resources are disturbed and even frightened by this textual revolution that puts them back in their place.
Salafism “was not in the mainstream of the Muslim tradition,” said Nasr. “It rejected centuries of Islamic thought.” The scholars contributing to The Study Quran, who are both Sunni and Shia, also break with the ultra-Orthodox animus against Shiism.
The Study Quran’s rich commentary, crowding around a few verses on any given onion-paper page of the hardback edition, seeks to remedy the previous absence of solid historical discourse. After all, Nasr said, even centuries ago the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca meant that exegetes, or interpreters of holy texts, were able to have a much richer exchange of ideas—and much more knowledge of one another—than European thinkers of the time.
It’s no surprise then, that Abu Eesa Niamatullah—a British Salafi with a large social media presence—cautioned followers tempted by The Study Quran to “avoid it. Like the plague.”
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“It doesn't just have mistakes, it's actually dangerous,” Niamatullah said. “This is advice to the 99 percent of people here, those who don't have the detailed tools necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff.”
Though Sunni Islam formally lacks a clerical class, Niamatullah expressed concern that those who lack proper religious or academic training might be swayed from the orthodox path by the new edition. 
“My point being that I see it as absolutely a threat to orthodox Sunni creed that such translations and commentaries, but more importantly, such deviated individuals such as Nasr being given a prominent platform to the hearts and minds of the basic masses who can't filter through the nonsense like you can,” he added in a comment.
A more moderate review, recommended by prominent cleric Yasir Qadhi to hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, acknowledges that the rigor of The Study Quran“is apparent after even a cursory reading,” but nonetheless it “is an academic and educational work, and as such includes commentaries from sources that may not be considered orthodox depending on one’s denominational orientation.” (Qadhi recentlydistanced himself from the Salafi label and critiqued some aspects of the movement.)
“Some of the Sufi commentaries can come off as uncomfortably esoteric,” the author Mobeen Vaid writes. “Khārijite positions are occasionally expounded upon, and not for the purpose of refutation.” (Kharijites were a rebel sect in the first century of of Islam.)
The differences that make it suitable for academia but not practice go all the way down to the understanding of the very nature of the Quran. “For believers,” says Vaid. “the Quran doesn't say anything, God does.”
And yet, The Study Quran fills part of what some scholars see as a perpetual hole in the study of Islam. Quranic translations abound, but centuries of commentary, debate, and context have long been the exclusive domain of those with a strong command of Arabic.
"We appear to be amidst a deluge of English translations of the Quran," Scott Lucas, a professor at the University of Arizona, wrote in 2014, reflecting on the proliferation of translations in the prior decade.


Amazon

‘The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary’ by Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Author), Caner Karacay Dagli (Author), Maria Massi Dakake (Author), Joseph E.B. Lumbard (Author), Mohammed Rustom (Author). 2048 p. HarperOne. $37.27

Pretty much any Quran given out in a da’wa, or religious outreach, program almost anywhere in the world has its roots in Saudi Arabia. Most of them use a translation completed by Yusuf Ali, an Indian-born, British-educated scholar who died in the mid-20th century. Published in 1938, it included not only Ali’s translation, but also parenthetical commentary on meaning—much of which has been stripped out by its Salafi adapters.
The first Quran ever owned by this reporter was an Ali translation, distributed through a Chelsea-based da’wa program to a bank teller, who unloaded it to this student of religion when she was still a teen. The thick hardcover has the scripture in two varieties: the original Arabic, as well as an English translation.
(Significantly, The Study Quran, already voluminous, does not include the original Arabic, the language in which Allah delivered his message to Muhammad. But the Arabic text is now readily available online and in many smaller volumes for comparison.)
Ali wasn’t the first translator of the Quran into English, of course. One of the earliest widely available translations was by George Sale, and it served as the standard for nearly two centuries. It’s rife with annotations that point to Sale’s Christian understanding of the “Mohammedan’s” holy scripture. More recent translations have come from feminists and creative translations that assign each Arabic word one—and only one—English equivalent.
And The Study Quran surely won’t be the last. The authors’ main goal, after all, is not a definitive translation—but a demonstration that different interpretations were “established, well known, and rigorously discussed over the centuries,” Nasr said.
This article has been updated.