Hajj Stampede Nothing New: We Were Almost Killed Ourselves

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I still remember it as if it was yesterday: my wife and I were on our way back from the ritual “stoning of the Devil” during our pilgrimage in 2003. It was very, very crowded, and people were everywhere going in each and every direction. Literally thousands were trying to get out at the same time as others were trying to get in. Then, it happened: my wife lost her footing and fell on me. I mustered all the strength I had to keep us from falling down.

Thank God, we did not fall, and we were saved from a certain death. Yet, on that very same day, there were other pilgrims who were not as fortunate. Unless you have been there, it is really hard to imagine how many people are at the Hajj. The pictures simply do not do it justice.

Although authorities are still investigating the cause, I can totally understand how a stampede can occur. Only one person has to panic to cause a devastating chain reaction. It is actually a blessing that a major stampede does not occur every year. Yet, sadly, these sort of things do occur, and my heart and prayers go out to the families of the victims who are now dealing with the terrible pain of the loss of their loved ones.

Although I do understand that it is very difficult, if not totally impossible, to totally control a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people all converging on one place, I also do agree with some of the criticism that authorities should do more to protect the crowds…

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord#ixzz3mxgWOLa2

Here, Here, Harry J. Bentham!

In the Name of God: The Extremely, Eternally, and Everlastingly Loving and Caring

It was so refreshing to read Harry J. Bentham’s post, “Islam is part of the West now, live with it.”

I will let Mr. Bentham speak for himself:

One type of misinformation that should be watched vigilantly is the way Islam is endlessly singled out as a violent religion. This is done by selective coverage of events and constant emphasis on any connection to Islam when talking about violence.

As I have written before, it takes a very selective memory of history and even recent events to see Islam as a violent religion. Not only is Christianity’s own history marred by the Crusades and the Inquisition, both of which were carried out in Christ’s name, but there are warlords alive today who committed unspeakable atrocities in the name of Christ and even Gautama Buddha.

We are told stories such as the recent one in France, where a girl in a bikini was assaulted by apparent Muslim women attackers offended by her choice of dress. However, we are not told of the comparable stories of the Muslim women threatened and attacked by racists in France or Britain even though we know such attacks are equally real.

“Go And Cling To Her Feet, Because Paradise Is There”

In the Name of God: The Eternally, Extremely, and Everlastingly Loving and Caring 

The title of this post is the response of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to a man who expressed a desire to perform jihad in the path of God. It is likely that this man was thinking about a military battle. The Prophet (pbuh) instead asked him, “Is your mother alive?” When the man replied in the affirmative, the Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Go and cling to her feet, because Paradise is there.”

The duty we have to our parents in general, but to our mothers in particular, is enormous in Islam. The Qur’an is full of references to the duty we have to our parents:

For your Lord has ordained that you shall worship none but Him. And do good unto [your] parents. Should one of them, or both, attain to old age in your care, never say [even] “Ugh” to them or scold them, but [always] speak unto them with reverent speech and spread over them humbly the wings of your tenderness, and say: “O my Lord! Bestow Your grace upon them, even as they cherished and reared me when I was a child!” (17:23-24)Now [among the best of righteous deeds which] We have enjoined upon humanity [is] goodness towards parents…(29:8)

AND WORSHIP God [alone], and do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him. And do good unto your parents…(4:36)

Say: “Come, let me convey unto you what God has [really] forbidden to you: “Do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him; and [do not offend against but, rather,] do good unto your parents…(6:151)

Read more:  http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord#ixzz3ZeQrXItA

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