Thursday, December 31, 2009

Every sensible human being must publicly denounce Al-Qaida

Al-Qaida has claimed credit for the failed attempt to blow up an American airliner by a wayward green named Umar Farouk Abdulmutalleb. What a bunch of cowards who hides in the underpants of a confused youth! Shame on them!

God’s greatest gift is life; do not waste it when you can create none.

You may be the master of seven scriptures, yet, if you have not learnt this simple truth your life has been in vain. Any holy book that insinuates shedding blood of the innocents is unholy and must be shunned like trash.

Any one who promulgates sacrifice of human life at the altar of any god, that god is a false god, beware of those phony prophets.

Here is a Hadith from Abu Huraira collected by Muslim:

On the day of judgment God will say, “Hey the son of man, I was sick and you did not come to see me.” He will ask, “My Lord, how could you be sick when you are the nourisher of the world?” God will say, “Didn’t you know that ward of mine who was sick? If you would have gone to see him you would have found me near him.

“Hey the son of man, I asked food from you and you did not give me food.” He will ask, “How could I give you food when you are the nourisher of the world?” God will say, “Didn’t you know that ward of mine who was hungry? If you would have given him food
surely that would have reached me.

“Hey the son of man, I asked water from you and you did not give me water to drink,” He will ask. “How could I give you water when you are the nourisher of the world?” God will say, “Didn’t you know that ward of mine who was thirsty? If you would have given
him water surely that would have reached me.”

This is the true God, the one and only, and you are but a part of that God, as the rest of the creation is. Whoever preaches otherwise is a mere pretender, serving a false god.

On the eve of a new decade I personally dare you to sign this page and denounce Al-Qaida for what they are.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Are Muslim extremists the most violent religious fanatics in our time?

Statistics say: Yes.

The case in point is, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23 year old Nigerian, who attempted Christmas Day bombing of an American airliner.

Born of a father who retired this year as chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and still sits on the boards of several prominent Nigerian firms, Umar was raised at the family home in Kaduna, a city in Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated north. At a boarding school, he was easygoing and studious, and would occasionally preach Islam to his class mates. Later, he attended an elite British boarding school in Togo, where many of his classmates were British expatriates and students from around West Africa.

Despite his affluent upbringing Umar was a lonely man, who sought friends online, through Facebook and in Islamic chat rooms, writing under the name Farouk1986. He would often turn to internet for counseling and companionship. He wrote about love and marriage, his college ambitions and anxiety over standardized tests, as well as his inner struggles as a devout Muslim. Writing in an online forum he affirmed, “My name is Umar but you can call me Farouk… I have no one to speak to…no one to consult, no one to support me and I feel depressed and lonely. I do not know what to do. And then I think this loneliness leads me to other problems.”

He had visited the United States and other countries, including Egypt and Yemen, and was aware of Western customs. He had a privileged upbringing as a wealthy Nigerian banker’s son. He had ambition to study engineering at Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, or the California Institute of Technology. Writing of his disappointment in scoring a 1200 on the SAT he scribbled, “I tried the SAT, It was a disaster!!!” In 2008, he graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the University College London.

His ambition was to be steadfast in religion; notwithstanding, the strict doctrine of Islam about interaction with other gender did not help him. He wrote of the conflict between his desires and his religious duty of “lowering the gaze” in the presence of women, “The Prophet advised young men to fast if they can’t get married but it has not been helping me much and I seriously don’t want to wait for years before I get married,” he acknowledged.

In December 2005, he wrote of his parents visiting him in London and mentioned that he was debating whether he could eat meat with them. “I am of the view meat not slaughtered by Muslims is haram for consumption unless necessary,” he wrote, “My parents are of the view as foreigners we are allowed to eat any meat. It occurred to me I should not be eating with my parents as they use meat I consider haram. But I fear this might cause division and other complicated family problems.”

He was in Yemen between August and December of this year to study Arabic at a language institute. One of his uncles said, “Farouk was a devoted Muslim who took his religion seriously and was committed to his studies…He was such a brilliant boy and nobody in the family had the slightest thought he could do something as insane as this.” People from the rich Unguwar Sarki neighborhood in Kaduna said that he was easygoing and passionate about Islam. One of his cousins commented, “He was a very religious, polite and studious fellow, but it was unthinkable that he would do anything close to attempting to bomb a plane.”

So, what went wrong?

The seed of fundamental Islam is sprouting vigorously. Although it is alleged that Islam is a religion of peace, the history attests otherwise. Out of the first four Caliphs only one died natural death, others were all assassinated. The direct descendants of Prophet Mohammed, the apples of his eyes, were mercilessly put to death. The war of revenge and avenge continues unabated.

And the war on terror declared on Islam by the self-proclaimed civilized Western world is only adding fuel to that fire. History says, the Muslims are the most backward as religious peoples in our time. The history also says whenever there is a clash between civilizations, the less sophisticated culture always wins, for they have little to live for.

Friday, December 25, 2009

One God: Christian Missionary Deconverted

I decided to hold off my written post for this week in favor of this youtube video. You can replace the word ‘Christian’ before missionary, with the name of any other religious follower; the fact remains the same.

Please enjoy the profound bliss which is beyond any written word.

One God: Christian Missionary Deconverted

Monday, December 14, 2009

So, that is what you said

I can sacrifice myself for religion:

Twelve percent of my readers responded in this category, and I am shocked.

You are in the USA, the year is 2010ish and twelve percent of you can die for religion? What good is that religion that sends you to death?

Religion is for wo/man, wo/man is not for religion. If we all die for religions who will worship God?

Please, please, please write me, call me names, send charmed words to my ancestors, but please explain what is the rational for your stance!

The Quran says there is no compulsion in religion (2:256). It also says: Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who believes in GOD, and believes in the Last Day, and leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve (2.62).

When such is the case, why do you want to die for your religion?

Organized religions that seek dominance over other faiths are inherently evil and create dissention in people, not harmony. Jews say Moses is the last prophet, Christians say Jesus, and Muslims claim Mohammed. What about the 23 million Sikhs, 7 million Baha’is and other smaller groups that are among us? Is religion purely a number game, the more the followers, the superior it is?

At the present time there are 2.1 billion Christians, and 1.5 billion Muslims inhabiting the planet earth. Third largest group of people in the world numbering more than the Hindus who form the fourth largest group, are peoples who are banded as Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist. Since Buddhists are atheists as well they too may be added to this group. Together, this group shall have nearly as many members as the Muslims and when the closet Agnistics/Aethists are taken into account, their actual numbers may surpass that of the Muslims. Shall we still play the number game?

If superiority is measured in the contribution to human progress, Judaism is unquestionably the greatest of all religions, for 14 million people ranking 12th as a group has given the world illumination far beyond its proportion to the world population.

God created wo/man, wo/man created religion. At one hand religion brought peace, on the other hand it waged war, war against other religions in broad-spectrum, nonetheless, at times against a dissenting group or individual of the same faith.

Religion is for human beings, and not the other way around.

It is the center piece of my life:

Thirty percent of the respondents are in this category. Pretty much middle of the line, shall I say?

If it is the center piece of your life you are a traditional God-fearing person who wants to live and let live others. Perhaps it is time for you to seek and find the true religion? In the 21st century, you are lucky to call home this country that we call the USA. There is no other place on earth that offers you greater opportunity to practice your faith in peace, and at the same time opens up the opportunity to explore at length outside your own faith. Please avail of this opportunity.

Whatever your faith is, if you want to be true to it, you must dive deeper and contemplate at the inner core of your belief and discover the universal message that your denomination has brought to this world.

If you want to understand your own religion, study other religions, embrace people of other faith as your own kin, seek the common travail. God created division just to test people, He could create one Nation if He so desired, albeit, His Mission is to Test and Reward His true followers.

Like it takes a mason, a carpenter, a plumber, and many other folks to build a house, it takes all denominations to build the House of God. Do not confine yourself in a small shell, shatter it, spread your wings in the sun-drenched breeze and wonder in the unexplored openness. God has created this universe for the humans to study and discover, and only through that study can we reach God. There is no other way.

I need it to live in the society:

Thirty percent of the respondents are in this category, tying up the position with the previous group.

Absolutely. We all need to make peace at the cost of our own personal desires for the greater interest of the society. Anyone who finds home in this group is potentially living ahead of her/his time. You have made the decision to sacrifice your own convictions for the greater good of humanity. Interestingly however, this attitude demands greater honesty and morality. If you do not have this intrinsic quality then you have not yet evolved, and you are not ahead of your time. If you are not ahead of your time you are in danger of leading a self-centered life, sinking, rather than perching to a higher plateau.

The glad tiding is, wherever you are, you are at the crossroads of fulfillment, ready for the transformation to embark on a glorious journey, if you can let go your ego and reach beyond yourself.

I do not care:

Twenty seven percent of the respondents are in this category, forming the second largest group from my survey.

If you are here, to you I say, been there, done that.

The question is, you may not care, notwithstanding, can you live outside the influence of religion? And if your fellow voyager does care, how do you interact with that person, in peace, in love, and in harmony?

You are probably responding with the assumption that we are confining ourselves to organized religions, and your answer denotes that you do not care for any organized religion. You nevertheless, akin to the Buddhists, can yet be marching to a religious band, sublime, and profound.

The Hindus coined the term dharma for religion in their religious scriptures known as Sanatan Dharma. The word dharma has dual connotation, in one sense it defines the attributes of something, or the very being. When you take that aspect of religion it does not matter whether you care for it or not, because in that paraphernalia the religion is all encompassing, and the goal and the journey is the same, as in the case of ancient Chinese belief in Tao.

Were the pre historic Taoists and the Hindus so far ahead of their times? Were they ahead of our times? Can we take a leaf out of their garden?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Why suffer?

Have you ever realized that your power comes from others? Alone, you are nothing.

Alone, you are miserable, and the more powerful you are in this world, the more miserable you are by yourself, without others around you. Your money, education, and sophistication are naught if there is no another human being to relate to.

Imagine; you are in a remote island. There are no other human beings. Only wild animals and vegetation. Would you survive? How long would you survive? What good your wealth come to?

Contrary to your position in the society, the lower in the stratum you now are, the greater would be your chance of survival in the wild. Hence, the word of the Christ: the least among you will be the greatest in the heaven.

The more you depend on others for gratifying your basic needs, the lesser will be your chance of survival in isolation. Yet, your thunderous cry pierces the night sky—Me..Me.. Me, I am the all powerful one. I deserve this, I deserve that. For me the bell tolls!

God smiles, you pitiful idiot, this is the reason you suffer. You are only an infinitesimal part of me. I Envelop the Universe.

You can only be happy when you realize that your happiness is entangled with happiness of rest of the universe. You cannot be happy when others around you are not, and your unhappiness touches others too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jason, you made me feel so small

Jason O’Neill is just a kid like any other 8th grader. What separates him from others is the fact that he started his own business at the age of 9. What was more astounding though, he was giving money to charity since he started his business, Pencil Bugs, four years ago.

This year he wanted to do something different. He raised funds nationally to buy teddy bears to give them away in Christmas, to needy children. A group of kids from Michigan sent him a check for $119. The smallest check was for couple of dollars from another kid.

When we the grown ups are so busy filling our own pockets at any rate, when we are breaking homes of millions of kids, Jason and his friends are buying happiness for a few.

Jason you made me feel so small!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Critique

Islam-o-sharia by Hasan Mahmud, published in Bangladesh.
Language: Bangla
3rd Edition, 2008

Hasan’s book begins with the time when life of the prophet of Islam was ending. It was an all-destructive Thursday, in Hasan’s words, a grand deception was taking place at the dying moment of a man’s life—a man whose mere words could once change the face of Arabia, but now too frail to command even his closest allies.

In a poignant language he evokes memory of those moments and the readers would relive highly charged emotions, as if the incidents were happening right in front of their eyes. This is the beauty of Hasan’s writing. His book is part history, part analysis, and part beseeching the forgotten glory. Nonetheless, it is an intense book.

Amidst the black letters of the book the readers will see dark red blood, in pages after pages, the blood of the very best of the Muslim saints who are the pride of the Muslim ummah. Even after 1400 years, your own blood will boil, and your eyes will become moist.

Hasan writes with intense passion and he begs the readers to revive the beauty, peace and the grand scheme of a religion, called Islam, underneath the violent raiment in which it has been cloaked.

Two underlying themes, justice and compassion override all other emotions, in pages after pages. Hasan quotes materials, all from respected written sources to rediscover the beauty of Islam.

He cites Islamic scholars, at times self proclaimed, albeit, with considerable followings that preach violence by the name of the religion, and goes on to demonstrate how vain their callings are, with support from Quran and Hadith. Without saying in as many words, he hints time and again, how the short sighted religious preachers utilized hadiths that are against the very teachings of the Quran.

Hasan devotes considerable ink in his book to refute the wrong conception of Quran-sanctioned oppression of the women. Hasan insists, provides logic, and establishes with cross references that many hadiths were indeed inserted by the debauched Muslim rulers and their henchmen. In the hands of the uneducated and sometimes educated, nonetheless, unscrupulous religious scholars those hadiths received stamps of authority.

Those additions and insertions created the phenomenon of radical Islam, an extreme and violent transformation of the original religion that spread only peace and harmony. Whereas the very name Islam literally connotes peace and submission, at the hands of the egotistical rulers it became an implement of tyranny. With this book Hasan wages a war against the evil of the radical Islam.

The book fosters understanding of the true spirit of Islam. Even the perpetrators of radical Islam would see the eternal truth in it, and Hasan fervently hopes that would mellow them to enter the mainstream civilized life of the modern era, and become effective members of the global society.

Links to Hasan’s book and other works:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Two Americas

There were polls on the Fort Hood incident and there were results.

Fox news:
94% said it was a terrorist act perpetrated by Islamic Fundamentalists.

6% were undecided.

Progressive talk radio:

54% said it was a singular case of individual action not motivated by religion.

26% were undecided.

20% said it was a terrorist act perpetrated by Islamic Fundamentalists.

(Based on the 1st day of poll)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Are you listening, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan?

Quran said: this book is for the believers.

Aha! Belief! That heavenly word on which the heavens and the hells rest!

And thus came a large sheeple of people, calling themselves Muslims.

Once man believed in sun god, cow god and rain gods. Belief?

Then came the prophets, Rama, Krishna and a host of them. They came at a time when the Semitic people were roaming in jungles in bare skin (but the latter would dare to call the formers heretics).

Then the Semitics clothed themselves, and they created their own religions, story of Abraham, and then came their prophets.

The God of Abraham was ruthless, violent, and loved vengeance. Was that all? Then why did he spare the life of the child that Abraham was ready to sacrifice?

Then came Jesus, and he said, “I have not come to do away with the Laws, but to make them come true. Not the least of the Laws shall be done away with, not until there is Heaven and Earth.

Jesus also spoke in the name of God and he lived life of a god, far beyond any ordinary mortal’s realm. Jesus said, if some one slaps one of your cheek, let him slap the other one too. Jesus said, pardon your enemy 70 times 7. Jesus said, leave all your worldly possessions and come to me. He lived the life of a god.

Then came Muhammad, who accepted all Semitic religious traditions before him. Muhammad accepted Jesus as a prophet, and the miracle of his birth and host of other traditions. When did Muhammad bring a new religion? All he did was remove the cobwebs and establish the Kingdom of God in the true tradition of Abraham.

Muhammad had his feet firmly on the ground. He lived the life that any ordinary mortal could live. He was the king of Arabia, yet he lived the life of a pauper. There were days when his body was weak with pain from hunger. He too forgave his worst enemies.

At the gate of Mecca, he faced his life-long tormentors; with one word he could decimate the city into oblivion. Notwithstanding, he choose to forgive. Forgive even the worst of the worst.

Muhammad followed the tradition set by Jesus and all other prophets before him, inclusive of Rama, Krishna and the rest of them.

It is one religion man, the religion of GOD the almighty. Do not kill in the name of religion.

You call yourself a Muslim, you whose hands are smeared in blood? Who does not have the temerity to condemn all these violence in the name of Islam?

You rascal!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Can a non religious person lead an honest and ethical life?

The poll has closed and I am flabbergasted with your response.

Thirty people participated in the poll; I thank you all for taking time to convey your opinion. Sixty six percent of the respondent answered “yes” to the question. This indicates that I am dealing with a matured audience that has come of age and is ready to live without crutches. In my book One God in You and Me, I had hypothesized that a great number of people in our time is not ready to relinquish the crutch. Albeit, not my audience, you have indicated a level of illumination which is above normal.

Twenty six percent answered, “may be,” which is again very impressive since you are prepared to grant the breadth to other thought processes and deliberate the question with honesty. If you have come that far, you have left the base and are close to the transition to a higher plateau.

One person answered “don’t know,” theoretically there is not a great difference between you and the people who answered, “may be,” except that you are probably veering more on the side of caution. You too are ready for the leap.

I will reserve most of my comments for the person who answered “no.” I am sure you will agree that a religious person can live unethical life; in deed a mere look at the outside world is sufficient to exhibit that people who vouch in the name of religion do not always live ethical lives. The very basis of mechanics of war on terror, and the associated mayhem attests to this. Truly, there shall not be any confusion to the reality that a religious life is no guarantor to an ethical life.

Now the question is, if a person is not religious, can he live an ethical life? If not, why not? What prevents him from pursuing an ethical life? If fear of God and religion cannot ensure an ethical life why the absence of it would automatically propel one to the other spectrum? What kind of person leads non religious life, anyway?

Human society has imposed religious beliefs on its members from time immemorial. The cruder the society the greater was the force of authority. Collective thoughts have attempted to suppress contrary individual thoughts time and again. Without freedom of thought, the society rots and is ultimately subjugated by invaders. Quran says, there is no compulsion in religion, so do books of all other faiths. Consequently, freedom of thought is the fundamental human right; freedom to question, freedom to seek better ways, freedom to strive for perfection. That freedom of enquiry thrusts human generation to the next higher level of progression. Can religion be an impediment to that progress?

I dare say; it can. This is what I have tried to delineate in my book One God in You and Me, using various religious teachings, pre-religious customs, and science. That is why I would submit, there are ethical people who can continue to seek meaning of life outside the rigor of organized religions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hasan Mahmud: Director, Sharia Law, Muslim Canadian Congress

Islam-o-sharia by Hasan Mahmud is arguably the most important book on Islam in our time. The book examines and reinforces the core values of Islam with supporting texts from Quran and hadiths and comments from various Islamic scholars. In Hasan’s own words, “The book is a result of painstaking efforts that came from digesting hundreds of Islamic books spanning nearly two decades.”

Islam-o-sharia is by far the best book on Islamic sharia laws ever written in Bangla and the book deserves to be translated in every language in every part of the world wherever there are Muslims.

Having said that, suggesting the book only to the Muslims would be a great disservice, for the book is equally good for any non-Muslim who desires to understand true, and I emphasize the word true, Islam.

Before writing about the book though, I want to write about Hasan Mahmud the man.

I met Hasan in Abu Dhabi in the late 70s, when both of us were starting our careers in Abu Dhabi. I had respect for his sharp wit and intellect but never knew that he graduated in the top four in his school final exam conducted by the erstwhile East Pakistan Education Board.

The fact was disclosed to me by a common friend only a few months back. When I asked Hasan during a recent telephone conversation with him, how is it that he never mentioned this to me! Hasan brushed it off with his characteristic laugh and said, every year people are graduating with such distinctions so what is the great deal in that!

With a brilliant academic background, Hasan could excel in any field of his choosing, yet he chose to be a molla, fotemolla to be exact. Albeit, he is a molla as no molla has ever been, truly a molla of the mollas.

To be honest, I could never fathom Hasan’s transformation into a religious scholar from his ultra progressive views on life. With a little contemplation however, I could easily relate to this phenomenon.

In his youth, Hasan gave freely; he gave his time, his service, and money, not only to his friends but also to strangers who were at the low strata of the society. He gave without ever expecting anything in return. His love for people, especially for the downtrodden was without parallel.

When the news broke out that Hasan was leaving Abu Dhabi, and he did not have enough money to start a new life in a new country, many people who had earlier received help from him came forward and voluntarily returned money. Hasan refused to accept money from them, but they forced his hands, saying they were returning only what was his.

The other day, I called on Hasan after decades, and was discussing Islam with him, when he started freely quoting from Quran with full references. He was supporting his arguments with hadiths, again with exact references. It was an incredible feat as there are over 39,000 authentic (regarded to be authentic by Muslim ummah) hadiths. However, he completely floored me when he quoted from Genesis (Old Testament), again with proper reference.

There are many people in the world who can recite Quran from page one to the last from memory, nonetheless, I had not met anyone who could quote from hadiths with volume numbers and their placing in the volumes, extempore. It takes superhuman intellect and memory, but on top, a lifetime of dedication.

When I expressed my surprise about how he remembers all these verses, he simply stated, I have no option. I knew instantly what he meant; his life has always been for service to people, especially to those who are oppressed and hapless. It is from that intense love for humanity that Hasan’s superhuman ability emanates.

Next week: Hasan’s book- Islam-o-sharia

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Who is right?

My friend Afzal Ali is a globetrotter. Dynamic and extremely forceful, the world is his oyster. He never comments on something that he does not know. However, there are not too many things on which he is not on the know.

He claims he does not know much about religion, yet the following post would clearly demonstrate his profound thought process and his perception of human spirit. Exposure to myriad cultures only broadens one's horizon, clearly that illumination is evident in Afzal's writing. He raises a pointed question, whose claim is right in religion?

In a poignant observation he answers his own question in not so obvious manner; it is the journey that is so important, rest is mere game play.

Now read it all in Afzal's own words:

Observation during the month of Ramadan ...

Typically, I fast (if I am not traveling), even though I do not perform many of the other Islamic rituals.

I was in Shanghai during the latter part of August. It was a mind boggling, eye-opening experience to see so many new, ultra-modern sky scrapers scraping the sky!! Multi-lane roads, all the European luxury brand cars, people hustling down the roads in a frantic pace, restaurants filled with patrons, businesses busy trying to get the next global project, etc, etc. Nowhere did I see any trace of Islam, Muslims, South Indians, for that matter, a single dark skinned person!

Shanghai with a population of 20 plus million, probably, does not even know the meaning of Ramadan. In fact, a very small % of the 1.4 billion Chinese population might have any clue about Ramadan. I spotted not one physical evidence or structure of any religious significance.

On to Thailand ... 90% Buddhists. Many images of Buddha and many temples everywhere. Life seems to be moving fast as well. 100 million people here don't really know what Ramadan is all about.

Then, on to Dhaka. It is Ramadan. It is immediately obvious. Restaurants have shades pulled. Many people are fasting and many others are not, but no blatant feasting in your face. Even the saree store wala's did not offer me a coke or a cup of tea. They did not even ask if I was fasting or not. It seemed that the entire city had to put up a facade ... fasting or not, they felt compelled to indicate that they were.
Two thoughts come to mind ...

First, the need by everyone to show everyone that everyone was fasting was disturbing!
Secondly, visiting Dhaka after Shanghai and Bangkok was a striking contrast. How is it that the non-believers (I have to be careful here) seem to be faring far better than the believers? While all of Dhaka seemed to be leading a pious, restrained, life of abstinence, billions of people, at the same time, are moving at their merry space doing their merry stuff. Who is on the right track?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Religion is for the other world

I received two very interesting comments on my Quran blog, both merits further discussion. First, I am picking up the comments of my friend Muneem.

I know Muneem for over thirty years. One of the most unassuming people, profound in cultural and spiritual wealth, yet, proclaiming simplicity, he goes about every day life with unabashed innocence.

He raises a question, who says our lives will be prosperous in this world if we follow the path of religion? Then he proceeds to make a statement that the religion prepares one only for after life.

The core teaching of Jesus is captive in the two sentences above. Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” (Matt.19:21) Thus he laid down the principle of success in the two worlds.

He then went on to elaborate the concept why success in the material world does not prepare one for success in the afterlife, “It will be very hard for the rich people to enter the Kingdom of heaven. I repeat: it is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. (Matt. 19:23-24).

In another instance Jesus was more direct when he proclaimed, “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt. 6:24)

He then equivocally sealed the argument with the statement, “pay the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay God what belongs to God.” (Matt. 22.21)

Truly, religion is for the other world; it does not prepare one for success in this world.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rifqa Barry, a tormented soul

A religious war is ensuing through a bitter legal battle in a Florida family court where the plaintiff is being represented by none other than the Terri Schiavo fame conservative Christian lawyer John Stemberger. Rifqa’s parent, Mohamed and Aysha Barry left Sri Lanka for New York with their two kids, Rifqa and an older brother. They were concerned over Rifqa's well-being, who had injured her right eye playing with a toy airplane. Sri Lankan doctors wanted to remove the injured eye; Mohamed was desperate to seek better medical treatment for Rifqa to save it. The year was 2000.

Then, in 2004, Rifqa’s family moved again to Columbus area; this time Mohamed sought a better public education for the kids. Rifqa excelled in school maintaining a 3.5 grade-point average at New Albany High School in her new home town. Rifqa began exploring Christianity soon after she arrived in Ohio. In 2005, Rifqa converted to Christianity at the Korean United Methodist Church in Columbus. She eventually fled home. Talking about Mohamed’s children, Gary Abbott, (a close friend of Mohamed in the U.S. and a Christian) said, "He values them more than his own life."

In an article called The Christian Runaway Newsweek stated:

Once Barry’s case became public, numerous Christian conservatives fanned the flames. "This conflict between Islam and Christianity is going to grow greater," said Blake Lorenz, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "This conflict between good and evil is going to grow greater." Stemberger, Barry’s lawyer, filed a 33-page memorandum in her case that's filled with innuendo and provocative allegations against the Noor Center, the mosque that the Barry’s occasionally attend (on a conference call with reporters, Stemberger insisted that the accusations have been "documented extensively"). Among them: that the center is connected to an FBI terror probe (which the FBI denies) and that it’s CEO has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood (which, along with every other allegation, the Noor Center denies). The mosque is actually regarded as mainstream and regularly hosts interfaith events. "Unfortunately, hate groups appear to be using this family matter as an opportunity to attack the Muslim community and Islamic organizations in order to further their religious and political goals," the center said in a statement.

For a full account of the story please visit:

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Oh Lord, bless me humility, the true sign of greatness!

When is a pigeon faster than Internet?
When you are in South Africa.

Only his chattels limit human creation and its effectiveness. How can a pigeon fly faster than internet traffic? Obviously, it is linked to the bandwidth issue of the net (the link follows for whoever wants to know more). Notwithstanding, here lies a great lesson. Despite our assumed power, alone, we are often helpless and hapless. Our power only derives from collective human evolution; nevertheless, we fail to see it so often.

We take credit for things, which are truly due to others. In the macrocosms who can truly judge worth of any singular contribution? The most precious things in life, sunlight, air (changing fast!) and water (not really!) are free. Many world changing scientific discoveries came to us free of cost. So, what drives our pride?

Jesus said: “The greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child. And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.”

Matthew: 18:2-5

Baul Samrat

See the richness of life in a Bangladeshi singer

Friday, September 11, 2009

What if he is not a bum?

What if he is not a bum?

Friday afternoon, returning home from office, I pulled in a gas station. The place was selling gas at 10 cents less than the next door station and was packed. I had to wait a while to get my turn.

While waiting, I watched a young person swiping a credit card through the processor on the other isle. He tried couple of times, started shaking his head, and walked away.

As I finished pumping gas and started placing the cap back on the tank, I saw the person approaching me. A young white male with heavy pink-blue tattoos on both hands, wearing a jean and a white shirt walked up to me.

He stood by my side and said, “Sir I am not a bum or something. I do not have any cash on me and need to get gas. My card is not working. That red Chevy over there is mine. I am from Indianapolis and trying to get back home. Can you help me?”

I pulled out my wallet instantly, but then hesitated for a few moments. I have been duped many times and heard many fake stories. Not again, thought for a moment.

Then I don’t know why, I thought of my daughter. She would probably be of the same age as him.

I pulled out a few singles from my wallet and handed them over to the young man.

He took the money and said, “It is a start. Thank you very much Sir. Have a great day.”

I boarded my car, and asked myself, have I been duped again? Was I wrong to give him money?

What if he was telling the truth? I sure could afford to buy him enough gas that would take him up to Indianapolis? However, I did not.

I do not know what the right action is and what is wrong, in a situation such as that.
Perhaps you do?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ramadan is a good time to study Quran.

Ramadan is a good time to study Quran.

Fend off the gatekeepers.

The next year will mark 1400 years from the time the first verse of Quran was revealed. It is the latest God-book on earth, or so its followers proclaim. The book has been preserved for fourteen hundred years without any alterations, and that is a source of pride to Muslims. Why is it then, following one book, one-fifth of the world population has divided themselves in multitudes of factions, and oftentimes display great animosity between themselves?

It can be argued that in our time Muslims are the most backward as peoples among the followers of the great-organized religions. They have the least contributions in the arena of modern technology and innovations. This is despite the fact that western civilization had borrowed heavily from the early Islamic civilization. Why does Quran fail to illumine the life of its followers? I will submit that the most prominent reason is that the holy book is well revered, well recited, hardly read and seldom practiced. The gatekeepers play a prominent role in that eventuality. The first principle laid down by the gatekeepers is if you want to get benefit, you have to read Quran in Arabic, the language in which it was delivered. Moreover, tradition emphasizes on mere recitation of the book and not comprehension.

The intention of the early preachers (read sahabis, khalifas and early imams through whom the traditions were established) was noble. They wanted to ensure that the book’s integrity is maintained over the eons. Sure, they did succeed in their goal. However, the problem occurred elsewhere. Billions of its followers recite and memorize the book without comprehending it.

Understanding esoteric text takes more than mere grasp of its word meaning, it requires illumination of minds and that illumination comes with wisdom. Wisdom comes with knowledge.

My daughter often asks me if my life goal is to become a physician why I have to read stupid history and rest of the associated useless texts. My answer is always the same to her: The stupid texts prepare you to be a human being and to be a good physician, first; you have to be a good human being. Without education, a human being is just another animal.

Modern education system has evolved over the centuries and has been transformed by the best of the minds. Our fathers knew that mere committing to memory of any text does not do any good to the crammers. Therefore, they developed a curriculum that enriches minds and broadens perception of the students. The world remembers those who widens human horizons and cast them off that do otherwise. Michael Angelo was persecuted by the Pope of his time, and died a pauper after a life long service to Church; we revere Michael—anyone remembers the Pope’s name?

Source of education is not limited to books; world is the best University, but that natural schooling takes protracted time. Books shorten the disciples’ preparatory life. The problem is in understanding the book and then follow its instructions. Without understanding, it is like the necklace on a beast’s neck.

I come across Muslims every day who will quote the words of lal-dari maulavi (priest) or sada dadi maulavi who are virtually uneducated, yet, accept their interpretation of Quran as God’s words. It is the lal-dari maulavis and the sada-dari maulavis who are keeping the vast number of Muslims in their state of ignorance.

My appeal to the Muslims, break off the self-imposed shackles. Read Quran in a language that you understand. Discover the hidden treasure. Practice it. Leave translation to the scholars who have devoted their lives making the truth freely available in vernaculars.

Contrary to what the gatekeepers proclaim, parroting Quran in Arabic is devoid of any benefit, if not, the state of the Muslims will not be as it is today.

Fend off the gatekeepers. Study the book, only then will it enrich your lives. If you must quote from Quran be prepared to refer to the verses and ayah, and do it in your vernacular. When God said, we made the Quran easy to understand (54:17, 54:22; 54:32, 54:40); whoever says otherwise is a transgressor. In addition, remember, your parroting of the verses in an archaic language does not inspire awe in me. Of course, who am I?

Indeed. Indeed.

I am just a divine sparkle, Creation of the Creator, the one and only one true God, Who created the universe; I am just as you are.