Islam Talk at United Methodist Church, University Park

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It was a different audience for me this time; almost all of them were in their mid thirties to forties and perhaps lawyers. The concerns were legitimate and the desire to bring peace to humanity was common, it was almost like speaking to the choir.

The purpose of my talk was not to glorify Islam or Quraan but to remove falsities spread about the faith, so we all can work on creating cohesive societies.
Submitting to God’s will amounts to creating a harmonious peaceful world of co-existence through free will, where we learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God given uniqueness of each one of the 7 billion of us.

Place: University Park United Methodist Church,
Room: Genesis
Here is the outline of my talk:

Greetings; The essence of and different religious greeetings

Creation – Regardless of Evolution or Creation or Big Bang, Life and matter came into being and we exist, don’t we?
Two products of such beginning, life and matter.  Life is about finding the balance, where as Matter has a built-in balance mechanism.
Origins of Religion – All
Religion defined – God has indeed reached every one of us and has offered that formula – Religion
Religion is a divine guidance to every human to find his or her own balance within oneself and with what surrounds;
_ _ _ _ _
Islam Defined – In one word it is Justice
Submission to God (goodness ).
When there is justice, there will be a sense of safety and peace. If no one takes advantage of other, one feels safe and secure… that generates peace and goodwill.
If there is justice between spouses, family members, communities and nations, the peace is certain. God does not want any thing more; he wants his creation to live in peace and harmony. 
Essence of Islam
Islam teaches one to be non-judgmental, and consistently encourages individuals to do good. It emphasizes about individual responsibility towards the peace and security of society at large.
Islam is not a new religion
Universality of Islam
The Qur’aan starts with the word الْحَمْدُ للّهِ رَبِّ  Sura Al-Fatiha 1:2 All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds, “God of Universe” (not an exclusive)   
and ends with قُلْ أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ (114:1)
An-Nas (The Mankind) 114:1 SAY: “I seek refuge with the Sustainer of men, “Humankind” (and again not Muslims).
No humans to judge one’s faith
Almost all Muslims are cognizant and repeat the verse مَـالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (1:4)           
 Al-Fatiha –  Lord of the Day of Judgment! مَـالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ (1:4)  
“God is the master of the Day of Judgment, and he alone we worship”. A fully observant Muslim recites this verse from 17 to 51 times a day.  
There is no compulsion in the matters of faith, says the Qur’aan. 
Accountability -Individual responsibility – Islam emphasizes on Individual responsibility for one’s words and actions.  
Prophet’s comment to his daughter about responsibility.
Qur’an, Al-An’am, Surah 6:163-164: All people will reap the harvest of their own deeds; no one will bear another’s burden. Ultimately, all of you will return to your Lord, and he will resolve your disputes. Al-An’am لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَاْ أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ (6:163)
Pluralism embedded in Islam – PLURALISM
Prophet Muhammad, a Pluralist and an interfaith dialoguer

Prophet Muhammad is perhaps the first religious person to initiate interfaith dialogue, he not only invited people of other faiths to dialogue, but he also offered them to pray, their own prayers in his mosque. 

Prophet Muhammad was not only a Pluralist religiously, but he believed in co-existence and living in harmony with life and environment.
Free will
Rituals are the path markers to spirituality, whether you do Yoga, Meditation or any other activity… the ultimate goal is well being of the person.
1. Faith – everything starts with a belief
2. Prayer – piety, humility, arrogance
3. Fasting – self discipline
4. Zakat – playing the role of trustee
5. Haj – Large scale community equalizer
Key Values
1.      Justice
2.      Equality
3.      Peace
4.      Accountability
5.      Belief in Oneness of God, humanity and the world for peaceful existence
            1. Sunni and Shia branches
            2. Sharia Law
            3. Ground Zero Mosque
            4. Apostasy
            5. Blasphemy
            6. Cartoons
            7. Jihad
            8. Conversions
            9. Quraan Translations 
Finding the truth is your own responsibility… what you see on TV or hear on Radio… is propaganda to malign the other… you may have witnessed that even against your church.  
Religion was given to each one of the 7 billion of us to make ourselves a better being, most of us get it, and a few don’t.
A few Residents of your city violate the traffic rules; do evil things, murder people…. people wearing faith badges violate their faith as well. 
That does not make the city a bad City or a religion a bad religion. Individuals commit crimes and we need to make them accountable and not their faith or their City. Blaming the City or the Religion does not do a thing, blaming the individual allow bringing justice to the society?

Thanks to Rev. Bill Matthews for facilitating this.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer. He runs the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and is committed to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress.

Mike is available to speak on Pluralism, Islam, Civil Societies, and Peace & Justice at your place of worship, school, work place, seminars or conferences.  He is a media commentator offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Mike’s work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at

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