A Very Telling Gaffe


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

A gaffe by a Rick Santorum staffer says a lot. Speaking to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Monday, spokeswoman Alice Stewart said:

There is a type of theological secularism when it comes to the global warmists in this country. That’s what he was referring to. He was referring to the president’s policies in terms of the radical Islamic policies the president has.

She quickly called MSNBC after the segment and said she misspoke, actually meaning “radical environmental policies.”

Ohhhh, I see! She meant environmental rather than Islamic.

This makes me wonder about a couple of things: first, does the spokeswoman’s slip mean that – deep down – she thinks that President Obama really is a “secret Muslim”? And second, is the association between “radical” and “Islamic” so ingrained, so natural, that it can easily slip out of one’s tongue? In either case, it makes me very sad.

It makes me very sad that still, in 2012, associating President Obama with Islam is used as a smear. It recently happened at a Rick Santorum campaign event, in fact, and Senator Santorum did not correct the person making the assertion. This is wrong. It is wrong to try to smear someone by wrongly accusing them of being Muslim (or Jewish, or Christian, or any other religious faith). We should have better respect for religious faith and choice than that.

It is equally sad that the association between “radical” and “Islamic,” it seems, has indeed become so natural. Yes, the Muslim worldwide community has its radical elements: but so does every other religious community. Yes, extremists who called themselves Muslims attacked the country on 9/11: but so did extremists who were Christians in 1995 in Oklahoma City. Yes, there are Muslims who have been caught plotting terrorist attacks, but as a recent study shows, their numbers are dwindling and the threat from American Muslims has been exaggerated.

I wish religion and religious faith would be taken out of politics and the Presidential campaign. Whatever religion we choose to profess: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, or no “-ism” at all, it should not matter. That is a personal choice, and we must all have respect for each other’s personal religious beliefs. That is what makes our country so wonderful: that we can live and work with people of all faiths in peace, harmony, and brotherhood.

It is the way that the Lord wanted us to live on earth, and so let us work to make His desire a reality.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/2012/02/a-very-telling-gaffe.html#ixzz1my7M7STD

May His Comfort Reign


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

I was standing in my  mother’s kitchen when I first heard the news: Whitney Houston, a singer to whom I grew up listening, had died at the age of 48. Since then, and in full from at the Grammy Awards, people and celebrities all across the country have sent in their condolences and prayers. I add my voice to that chorus:

May His comfort reign supreme over Whitney Houston’s family, especially her daughter. As a father who lost his child, I know full well the pain and suffering that loss of a dear loved one can bring. Ever since that horrific day, whenever I learn of the death of anyone, my heart twinges with pains of empathy. And my empathy extends to the Houston family.

As I reflect upon her death, it is amazing how much the country is affected whenever a celebrity dies. Although Whitney Houston did die at a young age, still, as my wife pointed out to me, it seems like celebrities are not subject to laws of God; it seems that they will always be with us to grace us with their talent. As we can see, it is sadly not true. Celebrities, like the rest of us, are human beings: they live, they die; they eat, they sleep; and they are plagued with the same things with which we all are.

Still, whenever one dies – anyone, really, – my response will be the same: may His comfort reign over all those touched by her death. For the truly greatest comfort comes from the Precious Beloved Lord alone. Amen.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/2012/02/may-his-comfort-reign.html#ixzz1mHz8Xj3n

Study: American Muslims Pose Little Threat


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

Let me start with this: I have never understood and completely abhor those fellow Americans who plot to hurt innocent people in this country. It is a betrayal beyond all measure, and they deserve to be punished severely, if convicted of the allegations made against them. And, definitely, homegrown terrorism is a threat that must be dealt with. Yet, especially during this election season, we cannot let alarmism and fearmongering win the day.

Some elected politicians have talked about the threat from – not “homegrown terrorism” in general – but “Muslim” or “Islamic” homegrown terrorism specifically. Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, held four hearings in 2011 to examine “the extent of Muslim-American radicalization by al-Qaeda in their communities today and how terrible it is, the impact it has on families, how extensive it is, and also that the main victims of this are Muslim-Americans themselves.”

A study by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security examined Muslim homegrown terrorism, and it declared:

Threats remain: violent plots have not dwindled to zero, and revolutionary Islamist organizations overseas continue to call for Muslim-Americans to engage in violence. However, the number of Muslim-Americans who have responded to these calls continues to be tiny, when compared with the population of more than 2 million Muslims in the United States and when compared with the total level of violence in the United States, which was on track to register 14,000 murders in 2011.

As the report says, this number is not “negligible,” but it is far less than some people would have you believe. And the number of plots and those who support them have been decreasing:

In addition to the decline in violent plots, the number of Muslim-Americans indicted for support of terrorism — financing, false statements, and other connections with terrorist plots and organizations, aside from violent plots — fell from 27 individuals in 2010 to 8 in 2011, bringing the total to 462 since 9/11.

Again, not “nothing,” but not a “scourge” as some would have you believe. In fact, a significant proportion of those plots were foiled by Muslims themselves: 

Muslim-Americans continued to be a source of initial tips alerting law-enforcement authorities to violent terrorist plots. Muslim-Americans turned in 2 of 14 individuals in 2011 whose initial tip could be identified, bringing the total to 52 of 140 since 9/11.

The findings of this study have been replicated by other studies as well. The point is: homegrown terrorism is a very important issue, and again, as an American I expect law enforcement officials to expend every effort to stop terror plots from being materialized. But, as Professor Charles Kurzman, author of the current study, told the New York Times: 

terrorism by Muslim Americans  [is] “a minuscule threat to public safety.” Of about 14,000 murders in the United States last year, not a single one resulted from Islamic extremism, said Mr. Kurzman

Let not the forces of hatred succeed in dividing us through fear and misinformation. Let us be a better people and better nation than that.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/2012/02/study-american-muslims-pose-little-threat.html#ixzz1lqif3AaP

A Political Fantasy


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved Lord

I know that, as the weeks and months pass during this year’s presidential campaign, that the issue of President Obama being a “secret Muslim” will come up again and again. It did so not that long ago at a Rick Santorum event (I swear I am not picking on Rick Santorum) during the campaign. A woman asked that, since the President was an “avowed Muslim”: “Why isn’t something being done to get him out of the government. He has no legal right to be calling himself president.”

Rather than correcting her, he sheepishly said: “Yeah, I’m doing my best to try to get him out of the government.”

Here is my fantasy; a daydream that I have almost on a daily basis:

At a campaign event somewhere, sometime in America: 

Candidate X takes a question from someone at his town hall meeting. 

“Yes, sir,” the Candidate says, pointing his finger to the person. 

“You know, this President Obama, is a fraud. He never should have been President. He wasn’t even born in this country, and he is an avowed Muslim…” 

“Uh, excuse me, sir. Let me stop you right there,” says Candidate X, who suddenly has a very serious look in his eyes. Staring right back at the questioner, the Candidate says: 

“First of all, President Obama was born in this country. I think that is clear. And, it is also clear that he is a Christian. He has said it on numerous occasions. But, more importantly, what if he was a Muslim? So what! Does being Muslim somehow disqualify someone from running for public office? From being an American?”

Several people in the crowd yell “Yes!”

Candidate X chimes in sternly: “The answer is no, folks. This is America. We are nation that believes in freedom of religion, the freedom to worship or not worship whatever you want. It is one of the things that makes this country as beautiful as it is. And if an American who happens to be a Muslim runs for public office, there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong at all.” 

Sigh. What a wonderful thing…if it were to ever come to pass. But, I’m not holding my breath…and I’m a lung doctor.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/2012/02/a-political-fantasy.html#ixzz1lGJ66SvC

Santorum and the God of Abraham


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved Lord

It seems that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s presidential run is running out of steam. According to the Huffington Post, Santorum is “taking a pause from Florida campaigning just days before the Tuesday primary that even he expects to deal him a third consecutive loss.” Yet, despite the fact that he is likely not going to become President of the United States, there is something he said while campaigning in South Carolina that intrigued (and amused) me.

At a town hall meeting before the South Carolina vote, Santorum asked a crowd: “Where do you think this concept of equality comes from? It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions…It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that’s where it comes from.” He meant that, if people want equality, then they must live by God’s rules since the concept of equality “doesn’t come from Islam” but from “the God of Abraham.” This begs the question: which rules are God’s rules and who is say what those rules are? But, I digress…

Still, his statement was quite telling because it is painfully obvious that Santorum has absolutely no idea that the God of Islam is the very same God of Abraham. Islam has always maintained that Muslims worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the Hebrew Prophets. In fact, Islam is nothing less than the religion of Abraham himself, as outlined numerous times in the Quran: “And lastly, we have inspired thee [O Muhammad, with this message,] “Follow the creed of Abraham, who turned away from all that is false and was not of those who ascribe divinity to aught besides God.” (16:123).
Yes, many Muslims call God by His Arabic name “Allah,” but so do Arab Christians. In fact, open up an Arabic Bible, and the name for God is none other than “Allah.” Why, even Jesus Christ himself called God “Allah.” If someone wants to become “Leader of the Free World,” I would expect that he or she would know that Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews. That’s pretty basic information.

I take Mr. Santorum at his word that he loves and worships the God of Abraham. So do I. That should be our point of reference; that should be our point of convergence. No, we don’t worship the same way, but that is totally irrelevant. The fact that we both call upon the God of Abraham makes us brothers, and as brothers, it should move to bring us together to help make our country better. Presumably, that is why is running for President: to make our country better. So why the divisiveness over the God of Abraham, Who should always be a force for unity and brotherhood.

The same should go for all Americans of faith (and it should extend to those who do not profess an “official faith” or any faith at all). Our common love and worship of the God of Abraham should bring us together. It is what the Lord our God wanted for us. Why not heed Him?

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/2012/01/santorum-and-the-god-of-abraham.html#ixzz1khkCcRlH

A New Year’s Prayer


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

As the year of 2011 comes to a close, there are so many things over which we can reflect. As I look to the next year, I turn my eyes skyward and beseech the Lord our God for many things, some which I will share here:

Precious Beloved Lord, to You belongs all the praise in the Heavens and Earth. To You belongs the Majesty of the Universe. To You belongs the sovereignty and power over everything. I cannot truly praise You as You deserve to be praised, and so I praise You as You have praised Yourself. Lord our God, hear my prayer. 

As You continue Your life-giving love and life over us in 2012, I pray that You continue to bless us with health, sustenance, ease, and happiness. As the next year begins, I pray that You send Your comfort to all those who have lost loved ones. I ask that You bring jobs to the jobless. I ask that You bring shelter to the homeless. I ask that You bring hope to the hopeless. Lord our God, hear my prayer.  

As the days, weeks, and months of 2012 pass, I pray that violence against the innocent ends. I pray that Your protection be extended to everyone on the earth. I pray that You frustrate and foil the Satanic machinations of all those who seek to kill, maim, and mar this world with senseless violence. I pray that You frustrate all the plans of those who seek to murder others and think You told them to do so. For there can be no evil that is truly done in Your Name. Lord our God, hear my prayer. 

Precious Beloved, as the 2012 Presidential Election truly heats up, I know that Islam and Muslims will, once again, come to the fore. There will be those who try to cast fear and division about the “secret Muslim agenda.” There will be those who will speak about the “threat” of “Sharia law” to United States. There will be those who want to marginalize the Muslim community from all aspects of American life. I pray that You frustrate these plans.

Moreover, I ask that You frustrate all plans to divide on the basis of religion. The agenda of all people of faith – whatever faith they may be – is to do Your work on this earth; to spread peace and mutual respect; to work together to make this world better for all. Lord please stop the forces of division and hatred in our world. You are the only One to do it the best. Lord our God, hear my prayer. 

Most of all, Precious Beloved Lord, I ask for Your unending blessings and grace. Extend Your blessings over me, and my family, and my practice of medicine, and my writing, and everything else that I do. I ask that You pour Your blessings over me as a father, a husband, a brother, a son, a cousin, and a human citizen.

Yet, as Your Noble Messenger told me, I cannot truly believe until I wish for others what I wish for myself. Therefore, please extend Your blessings upon everyone else in the exact same manner above. Your blessings, and mercy, and grace, and love, and beauty are infinite and endless, and so shine their light upon us all. Lord our God, hear my prayer. 

All of this do I ask in Your Most Holy Name, Lord, and thus – Lord our God – hear my prayer. And may the New Year of every single person on earth be blessed, healthy, happy, and prosperous.

Lord our God, hear my prayer. 
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/#ixzz1iFnjuCNf

If They Only Knew…


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

Clearly, those Christian “patriots” who want to silence TLC’s “All-American Muslim” series have no idea what is in our scripture and our faith about Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin. Clearly, these people have no idea about Islam in general. Otherwise, they would not try to bully advertisers into dumping “All-American Muslim” for a truly silly reason: that the Muslims on “All-American Muslim” are “too ordinary.”

No, my house is not decked out with lights or a Christmas tree. Yet, I still love Jesus so very much. As this poem I penned attests:

 

What was it like, when you stood there alone?
Praying in the East, on you His Light ever shone?

What was it like, when the angel came before thee?
Frightening you greatly, shattering your tranquility?

What was it like, when you were told the news:
That unto you was born the Messiah of the Jews?

Did you not know, that you were more than worthy?
That God chose you above all, that He favored you greatly?

Did you not know, that before you came to be,
The Lord already declared that magnificent were thee?

What was it like, when the Spirit was blown:
When our master was conceived, a miracle to be shown?

What was it like, as you left in fear?
Afraid of the slander that may be placed in the ear?

How did it feel, when the pangs came in earnest?
Did you feel deserted, that the Lord had no interest?

What did it sound like, when our master to you spoke?
How soothing was his voice, covering you like a cloak?

How sweet was the fruit that fell from the tree?
Did it comfort your mind, fill you with tranquility?

How sharp were the stares when, with him, you arrived?
Did their shock give you pain, that they would think you would connive?

How powerful was his voice, when he proclaimed the truth?
Were they amazed by his grace, as he shattered the lies of the uncouth?

O Blessed Mother, upon you I perpetually pray for peace.
And also upon your son, I pray blessings cover him as a fleece.

And if, O Blessed Soul, I get a chance to kiss your hand,
It would be the most honored place I could ever stand!

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/2011/12/if-they-only-knew.html#ixzz1gXn3ehZe

The Arafat Moments We Can Have Every Day


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

Today, the over 2 million pilgrims are now standing upon the plain of Arafat, fulfilling the most essential and important ritual of the Hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca, which every able-bodied Muslim must perform once in his or her lifetime. I was blessed to perform the pilgrimage in 2003, and it was the most powerful experience of my entire life. I recount the pilgrimage in a diary here.

On Arafat, it is said, Adam and Eve were first reunited after their expulsion from the Garden. In this vast and flat plain, pilgrims stand before the Lord and beseech Him for forgiveness and mercy. I still remember this day as if it was yesterday. I could not stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks: I was in total awe of the Power and Majesty of the Lord and ashamed and horrified by the sins that I brought with me to that holy place. And the emotion of standing there before God – like I will on Judgment Day – was completely overwhelming.

Not only is the experience of Arafat humbling, but it is also cleansing, because after the sun sets, all of the pilgrim’s sins are forgiven. At that moment, the pilgrim is born anew. It is a promise from the Lord.

Yet, even after we go to the Hajj and stand on Arafat, we can still have our own Arafat moments wherever we may be. We don’t have to be on Arafat to stand before the Lord and ask His forgiveness. We don’t have to be on Arafat to beseech our Lord’s Beauty and Mercy. We don’t have to be on Arafat to tremble in our shame and humility before the Lord. Wherever we may be, the Shining, Beautiful Face of our Lord is always there. All we have to do is look and seek its radiant light.

And so, let us pledge to have our Arafat moments every single day.

Today, I am fasting, which is something Muslims who are not on the Hajj are encouraged to do, in solidarity with my brothers and sisters who are at Arafat today. I am very happy to do so, because of the beauty of the experience I had at Arafat. Every single day we live and breathe on this earth, we commit sins – despite the love of the Lord flowing upon us as a river of life-giving water. But, our own plains of Arafat are always there, and we can go there and ask His pardon at any time. So, let us do it. We will be all the better because of it.

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/?p=162#ixzz1cmEMEOkO

A Prayer For Peace


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved Lord

As the diplomats wrangle and negotiate over the future of the Holy Land, there is very little a person who honors and loves the Holy Land, like me, can do or say to make a difference. It is high time that peace spread its wings over the lands of Israel and Palestine. If I could snap my finger and bring out a final peace between the parties, I would have done so a long time ago. I, however, do not wield such power.

Yet, the Lord and Creator whom I worship has such power. And so to Him I pray:

Lord of Hosts, Merciful Creator of all that is in the Universe, seen and unseen
Lord of Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, who called the Holy Land home
Lord of David and Solomon, whose rules glorified Your Magnificence
Lord of Christ Jesus and Muhammad, who honored this land with their footsteps

None more than Thee knows the strife and pain and anguish that presides in the Holy Land
None more than Thee hears better the cries of mothers over the deaths of their children
None more than Thee hears the prayers of the innocent who are brutalized
None more than Thee can feel the fear of children from rockets and bombs and bullets and tanks

Lord our God, this land would be nothing more than dirt had it not been for Your decree
Lord our God, it is by Your Word that made this space on earth blessed beyond all
Lord our God, it is by Your Leave that so much anguish has choked and suffocated that holy place
Lord our God, it is  none other than thee who can change the conditions on the ground in the blink of an eye

And so, Lord, I turn to thee in sincere prayer:

Precious Beloved Lord, King of the Heavens and the Earth!
Bring about peace in the Land is that is so Holy by Your Word!

Lord of Abraham, bring about peace between his children in the Holy Land!
Lord of King David, let the Majesty of Your Peace reign over his Kingdom!
Lord of King Solomon, let the power of Your Love rain down upon that far away Temple!
Lord of Christ Jesus, let the land upon which his footsteps tread no longer be poisoned by the blood of innocents!
Lord of Muhammad, let that land upon which all of Your Message Bearers prayed be at peace once and for all!

Guide those who wish to lead in that land, O Lord, to the Path of Peace!
Let the faces of the children, all of the children, light up with the gleam of Your Happiness!
Lift up, Precious Beloved, the darkness of hate that yet lingers in the land of Thy Holiness!
And bring about, O Lord, a peace that will last forever and ever in the land of Israel and Palestine!

In Your Most Holy Name do I make this prayer, O Precious Beloved Lord my God. Amen.

“Never Let Your Hatred Move You…”


In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved LORD

This was published on my Beliefnet blog, Common Word, Common Lord, on September 11

It seems hard to believe that ten years – a full decade – have passed since that horrific day in September when the country endured a trauma unlike any she has ever suffered. I still remember the unimaginable scenes of terror, horror, dread, and destruction. I hoped and prayed that what I beheld on the television screen was a terrible dream, with the disgusting realization that it was no dream at all.

Reflecting over the past decade since 9/11, during which almost everything that has occurred had something to do – either directly or indirectly – with said attacks, there is one thing that comes into my mind time and again:

Never allow your hatred of a people lead you to commit injustice… (5:8)

This verse of the Qur’an, perhaps one of its most powerful, is wholly relevant to the events that transpired in the decade since 9/11.

Of course, our country had the right to bring those who attacked our country to justice. Of course, our country has every right to pursue those barbarians who seek to harm our people at every chance they get. But, that should not mean that we give ourselves the right, in the name of 9/11 and those who died on that day, to attack, and bomb, and invade at will all across the globe. It is not right or honorable or proper to lead to the deaths of tens of thousands and the displacement of  millions of equally innocent people in the name of self-defense.

We must “never let [our] hatred of [those vicious barbarians] lead [us] to commit injustice...”

Some of our people have shown us – meaning the American Muslim community – an ugly face. Some of our people, seeking “revenge” against the terror committed in the name of our faith by those who do not truly follow the faith, have attacked American Muslims, attacked their houses of worship, attacked women who wear the headscarf, and tried to make them feel unwelcome in their own country. They must remember to “never let their hatred [for the terrorists] lead them to commit injustice.”

These terrorists have nothing to do with us. We have nothing to do with these terrorists. They are mindless murderers, who twist our faith to try to justify their violence and murder. They are like all religious extremists: they will use their sacred texts to justify their actions. But, that does not mean that what they say is true. That does not mean that we are like them. We are not like them. Attacking us and smearing our faith does not fight the terrorists: it only emboldens them to continue their violence.

Please remember: “never let your hatred [of the terrorists] move you to commit injustice” and attack American Muslims. We are on your team and are part of your family as Americans. We are not the enemy: the terrorists are…and we are not those people.

On the same token, we must remember that, despite the actions of those ignorant people among us who seek to lump all Muslims into the same “terrorist” bag, the majority – the overwhelming majority – of our people are good people who are not like the ignorant among them. The majority – the overwhelming majority – treat their Muslim neighbors with kindness and respect, becoming of the spirit of America. Despite the hatred of those ignorant people, we American Muslims must “never let [the hatred of the ignorant ones] move [us] to commit injustice.”

We American Muslims must never let the hatred of the ignorant make us recoil in hatred and separation from the rest of our country and her people. Despite the actions of the few ignorant ones among us, it must never let us give up on America. America is beautiful, her Lord is Beautiful, and her people are beautiful, despite the ugliness of the ignorant.

On this day of prayer and remembrance, ten years after the horrific attacks on our country, we must all – every American of every stripe – pledge to reject the hatred of those who want to hate. We must pledge to work together, be together, and move forward as one people. It is the way the Lord wants us to be, and it is the way we can honor those who died on 9/11, ten years ago.