AS American Muslims, we are yet to develop any concrete plans to extricate ourselves out of chaotic situations, hostility, and incessant Islamophobic rhetoric we face. Each time a terrorist acts out, we start praying and wishing that the terrorist was not a Muslim. Then condemnations follow that the terrorist is on the fringe, he is not one of us, or he is an extremist. Then we will start fighting the fires and start defending the faith and get frustrated. We are American Muslims, and we can do better than that. This book The American Muslim Agenda is a primer, a blueprint, a roadmap for American Muslims to consider. A Muslim is someone who should be a conflict mitigator and a goodwill nurturer, following formula for peaceful societies practiced by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and guided by the Quran. This book paves the way for us to own the mistakes we have made, remedy them, and become fully integrated Americans. There is only one America, and all of us are fully integrated parts of that nation. We need to learn to engage with those who are opposed to us, and I have some good success stories to share on that front. The focus of the book is Muslim integration and being one with all. There are things we can do to create a sense of being one nation with liberty and justice for all. I am pleased to dedicate this book to the following individuals who are a source of motivation and inspiration for putting this work together:
I have learned the mistakes Muslims have made from his point of view and he represents a substantial percentage of fellow Americans. How do we solve the problems if we don’t know how others perceive us? I want my fellow Muslims to know that he is not against Islam or Muslims but against radicals among us. The radicals not only frighten fellow Americans, but they scare the majority of Muslims and as well as misrepresent Islam. I have appeared in 110 of his TV shows on Fox News and 150 nationally syndicated radio shows. Thanks to Sean for receiving a copy of Muhammad Asad’s translation (I should have included a note about Quran 4:34, which Muhammad Asad also got wrong) and for not bashing the Quran in the last four years. Check out a few videos at https://mikeghousevideo.blogspot.com/
Brigitte and I have fought off on Hannity shows. First a humorous event in Mt. Vernon, Texas. I was on the radio with Sean and Brigitte from a library room in Mt. Vernon. You know, Brigitte delivers five hundred words in high pitch sound and in one breath, and on that day, I attempted to match her pitch talking about terrorism, scaring the daylights out of the librarians. I would not get off the phone, so they called the sheriff, who came with handcuffs to arrest me. Of course, we laughed it off when he discovered that “I was that dude on the Hannity Radio.” Brigitte is committed to sowing discord and division among Americans through her ACT for America, she may have had a bad experience where she grew up in Lebanon, she should have directed her ire at those miscreants and not their religion. She was precisely my inspiration. I said, “Brigitte, you pit one American against another, and I will bring them together under the banner of Americans Together, a part of the Center for Pluralism.” By the way, Brigitte advocated a Muslim to donate five million dollars to lead the moderate Muslims of America, a kind gesture that I appreciate. There is a video about it on the website www.AmericanMusilmAgenda.com
Pastor Robert Jeffress
He said, “The Quran is a false book written by a false prophet,” to thunderous applause and a standing ovation from his congregation at the First Baptist Church of Dallas. It was pathetic. No Muslim wanted to respond to it. Jon Halsey took me and Marzuq Jami to the church, and that led me to interact with Pastor Jeffress. I challenged him to find three faults with the Quran in his church in public, and if he did, I would join his church, or he should join me in becoming a blessed peacemaker as Jesus called all of us to be. He backed off, but we held a Quran conference with ten non-Muslim clergies from different traditions, thanking him for the opportunity to put an end to such falsities. He owes an apology for not verifying but passing on the false information to his congregation. He inspired me and gave full confidence in the Quran. It is a full story that ran for a week on local television networks and Dallas Morning news. There is a full story to tell.
Pastor Terry Jones
When Pastor Jones decided to burn 2998 copies of the Quran in Mulberry, Florida – my immediate concerns were the safety of Americans serving in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Journalists reporting from conflict zones and the safety of fellow Americans traveling around the world. I wrote a press release that hit all the major newspapers of the ‘world.’ New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Religion News, Saudi Gazette, Times of India and many papers responded positively with write-ups. The event closed peacefully, the Department of State and Department of Defense also got involved in it. The most significant success came when I walked into Mulberry, Florida. Mayor Hatch did not want to deal with the Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones, but extensive conversations and assurances that it was the right thing to do made him, the other mayors, sheriff Grady and the commissioners join us in the movement along with Butch Rahman, Curtis Rahman, Suzanne Carter, and other volunteers. It is a funny story about a Muslim landing in Mulberry and what he had to face. Pastor Jones’s right to free speech was acknowledged; the event communicated to the Muslim world that our God-given right to free speech is not to be compromised, regardless of the vileness of the statement. Ultimately, it is the freedom that uplifts the whole of humanity; indeed, it is as much an Islamic value as it is American.
An alternate Muslim behavioral model was established in Mulberry to become the standard for future conflicts; we can call it a genuine Islamic response based upon the Quran and the examples of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Jesus Christ, and Mother Teresa. If we get the funding, we will make a documentary that will skillfully manage different conflicting issues of free speech and what is sacred. Indeed, the concept was encouraged by major institutions, including the Brookings Institution and the US Department of State. The department indicated an interest in showing it in US embassies around the world.
I am grateful to the following international leaders for writing testimonials about the book, and I appreciate them. They are included in the cover pages and inside cover pages.
- Ambassador Bob Crane, first American Muslim Ambassador. 2. Pastor Bob Roberts, Renowned Evangelical Pastor. 3. Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, first Muslim woman translator & interpreter of the Quran. 4. Rabbi Gerald Serotta, Executive Director, Interfaith Conference of Washington. 5. Dr. Harbans Lal, Emeritus Professor, and Chairman. 6. Dr. Frank Islam, Philanthropist, and an International Scholar. 7. Dr. Tariq Cheema, Founder, World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists. 8. Dr. Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times International.
Thanks to the Muslim leaders who have given me the cold shoulder on facing our problems squarely. Their denial and resistance inspired me to keep pounding away at the volunteer work I am set to do. With the exception of a few, we don’t have confident Muslim leaders, most of them are monkey see, monkey do. They don’t have the confidence to be bold. One head of a Muslim organization told me, “As long as I am the president of the organization, you will not do a program on sharia, let alone talk about it.” No discussion was allowed, shutting the other board members from even talking about it. Another one refused to share their teaching material because they thought I was an Ismaili Muslim; how ridiculous can one get and I am glad they did that, we have produced much better teaching material on Islamic values than anyone else. A few prominent Muslims have chewed me out on going on Hannity show and have called me names and have written as well. They simply do not understand the power of positive engagement and the results it brings in creating cohesive societies. This book is really for them to understand what Islam is. A full section on spineless Muslim leadership is in the chapter “American Muslim Agenda.”
These friends from Dallas have supported our programs and are a source of inspiration. Mr. Farooq Wazir Ali, Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Dr. Nauman Anwar, Mrs. MaryAnn Thompson-Frenk, Dr. Frank Islam (Washington), Dr. Ishrat Hussain (Washington), Mr. Farooq Khan, Dr. Rehana Kausar, Mr. Victor Begg (Florida), Dr. Farooque Khan (Long Island), Dr. Mohammad Hussain (Louisville), late Dr. Muqtada Qureshi (Louisville), Dr. Arjumand Hashmi, Mr. S.K. Mittal, Dr. Humaira Ali (Washington), Dr. R. Khan (first name withheld per her request), Dr. Naveed Chowhan (Louisville), Mr. Akram Syed, and late Mani Rahman. Americans of all faiths are struggling with their conscience about overcoming their biases toward Muslims. The Pew survey indicates that 63 percent of Americans who have a negative view of Muslims don’t know any Muslim personally yet hold such a view. Naturally, they have formed that opinion based on what Fox News has persistently portrayed.
We don’t have a Martin Luther King Jr. to liberate us from the anguish of prejudice. As Americans, it is up to us, here and now, to come together and find solutions. It is in the interest of Muslims to take the lead and set the agenda. The reason we have conflicts with different communities and groups is that we don’t know much about one another and that whatever we think or know about the other is based on myths and not facts. Instead of examining and removing the myths, we have piled up more myths and have aggravated the situation further. Indeed, there is a solution, and the is guidance is offered in this book.
We, the American Muslims have a responsibility to breach the barriers between us and our fellow Americans, and we have yet to set our priorities. You find us chasing our own tails in the mosque at the cost of being the amins (trustworthy) of society, a foundational value of Islam. The other day, I was at a dinner table at a wedding where six out of seven young men wore beards. I asked if the beard was a trend, and one of them quickly responded that it is Rasool Allah Sallallahu Alaihis Sallam’s Sunna. In simple words, it is the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. I was going to ask a follow-up question but yielded to the call from the stage about the evening’s proceedings. I was going to ask them what the first and foremost Sunna of the Prophet was; it indeed was not the beard. The answer is in the section “The American Amin Awards.” I care about every human without reserve and firmly believe goodness is the dominant energy in the world. The negative vibes come from a tiny one-tenth of 1 percent of the population, and they are to be found in every faith, race, community, place of work, worship, classroom, media, the parliament of the world, and of course, on Capitol Hill. A majority of us go to work and return home safely; our kids go to schools and come back to us in the evening. If goodness was not dominant, you could not drive safely, work in a secure environment, or do anything in life freely.
My other book Standing Up for Others has been in the works for over a decade. It is about my activism in defending religious freedom and sanctity of every faith from atheism to Zoroastrianism and every tradition in between, including Native Americans, LGBT people, and the suburban and rural white Americans. What about the white Americans? I wrote an op-ed two days before the elections at Huffington Post, urging Hillary Clinton to include and address the concerns of white Americans. It was sickening that the public conversation was dominated by attention to the rights of minorities, which is the right thing to do, while completely ignoring the rights and the reality of a major segment of the white majority. This was wrong, dead wrong. The following was an imaginary speech written for Hillary Clinton, hoping she would deliver it; the full statement is at the Huffington Post dated November 6, 2016, two days before the elections.
My priority is to reach out to my fellow Americans who had it right until the disaster from wars brought misery to them, the white Americans. We are going to find ways and means for them to recover from the difficult times they have endured while other Americans have advanced and prospered.
You have two stark choices in front of you. One makes decisions from the seat of his pants. He does not listen to anyone, does not have the support of a single former President, nor does he permit himself the advice of the sane voices. He can bankrupt the nation and walk away with no consequences, but you’ll be the one who gets stiffed. Your job and your life are an experiment to him, and the safety and security of our nation are subjected to his whims.
Believe me, the black Americans, Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, immigrant Americans, and all other Americans want each one of us to prosper, together, particularly the disaffected white Americans. Our prosperity hinges on the prosperity of people around us and the success of nations around us. None of us will succeed if some of us are left behind. Moreover, our very survival as a society may be at stake.
I am committed to restoring justice to my fellow Americans who lost their jobs in manufacturing, Americans who live on farms, Americans who do not have an education or technical skills, men and women who are plumbers, electricians, repairmen, drivers, janitors, and small business owners, and taking care of them will be a priority of my administration. We will restore our glory days, and in the end, no American will be left out.
You can read the details in the article, “Last Ditch Effort by Hillary” at Huffington Post. By the way, Peggy Noonan wrote the very same idea two weeks after the election and received a Pulitzer Prize award for her article. As a society, it is our responsibility to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the fundamental sources of disrupting the peace in a society, and we must track down the source of such hatred and work on mitigating it. Pluralism is a development of an attitude of respecting the otherness of others and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of us. You are who you are, and I am who I am; let’s figure out how to make life easy for both of us. The Center for Pluralism will channel the collective energies to give our nation a solid, cohesive social structure. By 2025, there will not be an office, school, playground, college, restaurant, theater, train, bus, or workplace where people of different faiths, races, ethnicities, and national origins do not work, interact, play, live, and marry together. This is bound to create conflicts in airports, public spaces, boardrooms, and bedrooms as well as places of worship, workplaces, politics, eateries, and schools.
We have a responsibility to shape the future of our society, and we will continue to focus our energies on ensuring a safe, secure, and confident America where no one—including your kids, grandkids, or yourselves—has to worry about their faith, ethnicity, race, gender, or other God-given uniqueness and live their life without apprehensions. The American Muslim Agenda addresses the issues that have kept Muslims in silos, in ghettos, in clusters, and in tiny isolated pods and offers guidance for us to come out of our shells and connect with fellow Americans. In Irving, Murphy, and Plano, Texas, we are building homes around the mosques, creating ghettos. Thank God, Ted Cruz did not have his way. Muslims should resist the temptation to live in clusters and should integrate well with all others. Ultimately, we the people are one nation, embracing the given uniqueness of each community. As believers in a universal God and universal prophet, shouldn’t Muslims’ humanity be global as well? Doesn’t God clearly say so in the Quran? Whether you are a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, or whatever, if you are kind to fellow beings (his creation) your reward is with him. Look it up in the Quran. This verse is repeated nearly a dozen times in different formats. Check out the Pluralism section for further explanation. If early Muslims had lived aloof and apart, Islam would not have seen the light of the day, and no one beyond Arabia would have known of it. This trend to live in silos began in 1969 and needed to be reversed. Caring for his creation is the highest form of worship.
This book is a blueprint for Muslims to become a part of the whole—e Pluribus Unum. Let us be with other people; this is an opportunity to connect and to build relationships and the chance to let fellow Americans know that Muslims are good and regular human beings. The more we integrate, the more we become one with our fellow Americans. Islam is not a monolithic culture as each nation’s culture differs from region to region as do the daily practices in what various Muslims wear, eat, drink, and how they speak and interact with one another. Islam is indeed a faith with a belief in a singular source of creation, accountability for one’s actions, and responsibility toward fellow beings. Working on creating just and cohesive societies and rituals are a vehicle to make a good human who cares for fellow humans and the environment.
The reason Muslims have conflicts with fellow Americans is that we don’t mingle, and most of our cross-cultural relationships are shallow and superficial. How would anyone know us? How can people get free from the myths about Muslims if they don’t get to know us intimately in different aspects of life? Of course, every faith or political group has something or other that holds its people back from being one with others, and we all need to work on knowing one another. We have to be a part of the American story and become one with all to build a secure future for every American. All humans—men and women—are created equal, and no one is more privileged than the other. We need to reassure one another, particularly the disconnected ones, that together as Americans, we are committed to safeguarding the American way of life.
No American needs to worry about losing his or her way of life. Together as Americans, we will uphold, protect, defend, and celebrate and live the values enshrined in our constitution, a guarantor of the way of life for every American. When we are one with many, conflicts fade and solutions emerge. We all have a common dream and a common destiny: safety, security, job, home, children, volunteerism, grandchildren, and retirement in peace. Ultimately, each one of the 322 million Americans must feel secure with our faith, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other uniqueness in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. When we start defending America and American values, we are in. We become an integral part of the American story.
I invite you to visit http://www.theghousediary.com/ mission-accomplished/
—Mike Mohamed Ghouse