B U L L E T I N

PLEASE VISIT www.CenterforPluralism.com for all information - Please note that this site was Foundation for Pluralism before

-----------------------------

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

American Muslim Agenda - What is it?

What is that Americans Muslims want? How close are they to what you want? What can they do about it? What are your issues with each other? If you are a conservative, grudgingly, you'll see the value in this book, and if you are a moderate, you'll dance and sing along with joy.

You and I have a responsibility to create a world where, you, me, and our grandchildren can live without apprehensions. No matter we go, we should feel secure about faith, race, ethnicity, culture and our political and sexual orientation.


Would the book American Muslim Agenda bring attitudinal change among Muslims?  Yes, it will, it’s akin to planting seeds and nurturing it to give the beneficence to the next generation. I know most American Muslims will wholeheartedly subscribe to the refreshed understanding of Islam, we need to expand it to more Americans.

Some of the reservations we have about Muslims and Islam are based on what we have heard from our parents, teachers, clergy, favorite media people and others.  We need to find the truth on our own and find freedom from misunderstandings. It is a blessing to be free.
Muslims have shied away from confronting difficult issues about their faith, and most of them don't even have a clue about the essence of Islam, it was never articulated before in the history of Islam. 

A few medieval scholars have reduced Islam to rituals, five pillars, dhimmi, jizya, sharia, externalities, and enforcement of your rules on to others. That is not Islam, and most Muslims can recite verses that Islam is about free will. God uploaded free will into Adam’s DNA, and emphasized it in the Quran, the prophet practiced ‘freewill’ and established examples for it. Sadly, Muslims know the truth but were bullied into silence with fatwa bombs. All I have done is articulated what Muslims believe, but dared not say it. The book is the voice of the majority of ‘American’ Muslims.

This book is a product of twenty years of research and thousands of discussions in which Muslims, non-Muslims, and “Islamophobes” have participated in it, including debates on Fox News with Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney, Pamela Geller, Brigitte Gabrielle, Robert Spencer, Jamie Glazov, Raymond Ibrahim, Walid Shoebat, Wafa Sultan, and several others.  

Islam is about living your life and letting others live theirs. Islam is about building cohesive societies where all of God's creation lives with dignity and freedom. In God’s universe, we are merely a speck, and no one is more privileged than the other. If you are a moderate individual of any faith, you will find the book in tune with you.

It is time to go beyond the five pillars of Islam, and I hope the Imams and Muslim scholars who are free thinkers would appreciate the contents of the book. This book may indeed become a reference manual for teaching Islamic values that contribute to creating a better world for all humanity.

The American Muslim Agenda offers guidance to Muslims to be one with all, and it voices what Muslims believe and live with and empowers them to live their lives and let others live with free will.  The book opens the door to people of other faiths to shed their biases and join hands in creating a world of safety, security, and harmony for all humanity.

Islam is a public religion, and Muslims don't own it exclusively. You are invited to participate in discussions, including your faith.  The book is expected to initiate conversations about the nature of Islam and fellow humans. I welcome your criticism (after reading the book).

You can get the book by calling 1-888-795-4274 x 4528 or get it from Amazon online or a book store. You can find the talking points at www.AmericanMuslimAgenda.com.


Dr. Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His new book, the “American Muslim Agenda” is about everything you wanted to know about Muslims. The book is available at Xlibris and Amazon. Mike is a public speaker, author, interfaith wedding officiant, and the executive director of the Center for Pluralism in Washington, DC. More about him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeghouse/

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ramadan Mubarak - Reflections on Celebrations

A few questions are answered here; why do we celebrate on different days? What is it with the Moon? How do you greet Muslims on this day? What kind of culinary delights are out there? How do Muslims celebrate in different parts of the world?  Ramadan TV Commercials? A bit of politics too.
I urge Muslims around the world to take a minute to stop and appreciate the men and women who serve our nation, police, firefighters and others who are out there for the safety of individuals and families.  I have done this time and again, and I always remember the Louisville experience, where the police officer asked me to forward the email to him, asking Muslims to appreciate them, and after the Eid prayers, he had forwarded it to many police officers.  I urge Muslim organizations to issue a press release to this effect, and this is our appeal from the World Muslim Congress, a think tank committed to building a cohesive America.
Pluralism is alive and kicking in Islam – i.e., respecting the otherness of others! Indeed, there are many schools of thought, and the good clergymen always point out the different traditions, Dr. Imam Kavakci, one of the leading Muslim Scholars, always advised on that basis.  It is up to the individual to follow what he or she is conditioned or comfortable with.  The non-pluralistic Muslims resort to name calling the others who take a different path. But all of them celebrate the festival.
A month-long fasting should clean up our bodies, hearts, and souls, it means you are no biased towards anyone, you have no wall between you and another human and that you are committed to peace and harmony.  What others do to you does not matter, but how you behave towards others is all that matters in making America great again. By the way, I am an independent, and not a Republican or a Democrat and I am a Pluralist Muslim, like a majority of Muslims – i.e., respecting the otherness of others, and accepting the God-given uniqueness of each one of his beautiful creation.
Mike Ghouse
When is the Eid? Ramadan Celebrations?  Is it Friday, Saturday or even Sunday? For some, it will depend on when the moon (first day) is sighted.
Pluralism is alive and kicking in Islam – i.e, respecting the otherness of others! Indeed, there are many schools of thought, and the good clergymen always point out the different traditions, Dr. Imam Kavakci always advised on that basis.  It is up to the individual to follow what he or she is conditioned or comfortable with.  The non-pluralistic Muslims resort to name calling the others who take a different path. But all of them celebrate the festival.
Since the beginning of Islam, there have been debates as to what constitutes moon sighting. Some interpret that there has got to be a minion to declare that they have seen it themselves with their own eyes, while others do not accept it unless they have seen it themselves. It is also acceptable if the moon is sighted elsewhere, but now, each group has to have their own moon sighting. In the United States, there is an organization that monitors moon sighting and announces it in advance. Over the millennium we learned to accept and respect the otherness of other.
Politics plays a crucial role in our Temples, Synagogues or Churches, Mosques are no different. A few scientifically-inclined-Muslims have adopted NASA’s calculations believed to be precise. However, four different traditions are operating concurrently; i) Strictly Calendar, ii) NASA  iii) Sighting with bare eyes and iv) sighting by others in the community.
The NASA-oriented and the Calendar-group miss out the fun, joy, and exhilaration of waiting and watching the needle thin moon on the horizon. The whole family gets out on the rooftops, or higher grounds, some even climb electric poles, and a few will drive out where they can see the sky without obstacles, kids would climb on parent’s shoulders, and a few go from place to place shouting in excitement, did you see it? It is like the belief in Santa Claus, Angels, and other myths, each tradition fulfills one’s emotional needs and every one becomes sentimental. After all, if celebration does not have the excitement, it is not a celebration.
America’s spirit of freedom touches every soul, no matter what religion or tradition they follow. American Muslims are no different, they prefer to have a pre-set date to start fasting and the celebration called “Eid” pronounced as Eeed as in Eeel. The idea is for them to take a day off from work or get an optional day off for their children from the schools. Always, the joy multiplies when the family and friends celebrate it together. They prefer to start on a pre-set date and trust the calculations.
The conflicts are the same everywhere on the earth. Each group subscribes to one of the four systems mentioned above. America is no different; you will find celebrations on one or three different days in any given city, the Sunnis, being the largest group has the greater division within, while the Sufis, Shias, Ismailis, WD Mohammad, Bohra and Ahmadiyya follow the pre-determined dates.
The consensus may be attributable to having central spiritual leadership in all groups except the Sunni. However like the American Public wishes to see the Republicans and Democrats drop the party lines and focus on what is good for America, the Muslims also wish they could celebrate the Eid on one single day. It ain’t going to happen, it is human to differ. It is against the spirit of Ramadan to denigrate, diminish and devalue other practices.
The essence of Ramadan is to become humble, simple and free from ill-will, anger, meanness, and hate. Let’s fill our hearts with goodwill and honor Ramadan by saying “Eid Mubarak” or Happy Eid to everyone who celebrates on a different day in the same town. The essence of Ramadan is joy and let’s not prick the bubble; God has not signed a pact with anyone behind other’s back to favor one and disfavor the other.  Let’s allow God to be an honest God who is just, kind, merciful and loving as Quran says. Let’s rejoice the differences of interpretations. If you want to celebrate every day, go to every celebration.
In the spirit of Ramadan, I pray that Ramadan gets into our hearts and minds and make us embrace all factions of Muslims without undermining their tradition and further pray that we treat every human on the earth with dignity, respect, and care.
The Shia-Sunni conflict we see in Iraq is new to both groups of Muslims, conflicts have always been there but the violence in conflict took birth after we (The Americans) invaded Iraq and sowed the seeds of division. Shamefully, the Shia and Sunni played it out. Our short-sighted foreign policy is pitting Saudi Arabia against Iran. Iran is not a threat to anyone, it is the false propaganda by Netanyahu, and salesmanship of defense contractors to sell Arms to Saudi, and the stupid Saudi monarchs have bought the idea, I wish we can sell peace and democratic education that will benefit us all in the long haul. I wish, the leadership of these two nations make a bold move and meet in Singapore and hash out the differences.  I also wish in the spirit of Ramadan, the Pakistani people will wake up and correct the ugliness in their constitution that shamelessly discriminate Ahmadiyya Muslims. Above all, I wish Muslims chose to follow the foundation of Islam; Amin, that is caring for every human being and seeking peace and harmony by respecting the otherness of others.
That is indeed the wisdom expressed in Qur’an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: “O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of God, is the best in conduct. God Knows and is Aware of everything you do.”

MUSLIMS MUST DO THIS

I urge Muslims around the world to take a minute to stop and appreciate the men and women who serve our nation, police, firefighters and others who are out there for the safety of individuals and families.  I have done this time and again, and I always remember the Louisville experience, where the police officer asked me to forward the email to him, asking Muslims to appreciate them, and after the Eid prayers, he had forwarded it to many police officers.

WHAT ELSE? 

Everything you always wanted to know about Ramadan is here at www.RamadanNews.com
Ramadan Commercials by McDonald at http://ramadannews.com/ramadan-commercials/
What does God want? http://ramadannews.com/happy-ramadan-what-does-god-really-want/
You can also read “The Rituals of Ramadan” followed by the “Spirit of Ramadan”.
Usually, Arabic Speaking people call it Ramadan, all others call is Ramzan, both are acceptable terms.
There should be at least 100 ways of wishing the festivities:
Ramadan Mubarak!
Salamat Hari Raya
Eid Mubarak
İyi Ramazanlar
Ramadan Kareem
Hayırlı Ramazanlar
Hoşgeldin Ramazan,
Happy Eid-ul-fitr
If you know the greetings in any other langauge, please send an email to MuslimVision2020@gmail.com to be included for the next Eid.
      
                     
Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day through the Center for Pluralism and World Muslim Congress and its affiliate sites including www.RamadanNews.com and www.MuslimSpeaker.com and www.InterfaithSpeaker.com

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Pluralism News, April 8, 2018

Originally Published at: http://centerforpluralism.com/good-news-from-the-center-for-pluralism-april-8-2018/

Pluralism is an attitude of “Respecting the otherness of others” and “accepting the God-given the uniqueness of each one of us.” You are who you are and I am who I am, neither one of us has to compromise the uniqueness of our faith, race, culture, nationality, and language.  Our purpose is to acknowledge the differences and live with least conflicts.
We are a non-profit organization and your donations are appreciated. http://centerforpluralism.com/donate/

MARK YOUR CALENDAR | QAWWALI KI RAAT
The Center for Pluralism appreciates the community for their support in working its goals of integration, where each one of us feels included and safe. We appreciate the community for their support in working its goals of integration, where each one of us feels included and safe.
  • Saturday, June 16, 2018, Washington DC
  • Saturday, June 23, 2018, Dallas, TX
Most of you have enjoyed the Qawwalis, a South Asian tradition of group singing with audience participation.  This unique program will start out with the most popular Qawwalis, followed by QawwalIs to reflect Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Christian, Muslim, and Secular traditions. We are finding the Qawwalis for other traditions as well.

INDIA: ELECTIONS AND CHALLENGES TO DEMOCRACY – OPEN DISCUSSION
Speaker:      Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, The 17th Chief Election Commissioner of the Union of India
Where:         (XXX) The Capitol,
When:          Wednesday, May 2, 2018, 11:00 to 11:30 Remarks. 11:30-12:30 Q&A
The foundation of a democracy rests squarely on voting, the basis to ensure free choice, and if this can be handled all other things of democracy fall in place.  Managing the elections is one of the biggest responsibilities in a Democracy.
India has the largest electorate in the world. In the 2014 general elections, a whopping 814 million people were eligible to vote.  A total of 8,251 candidates contested for the 543 Lok Sabha seats. The average election turnout overall in nine phases was around 66.38%, the highest ever in the history of Indian general elections.  The counting exercise was held at 989 counting centers.

HATE A MUSLIM DAY
April 2, 2018, Washington, DC – A handful of misguided individuals are expressing their hate for Muslims by organizing a day with multiple names like Punish a Muslim, Hate a Muslim, Hurt a Muslim. They said, wherever you see a Muslim, be it a child, senior citizen or a woman, hurt them including ripping the head scarf off a woman. That is their plan for Tuesday, April 3, 2018.
I believe in positive engagements and wore a sign that said, “ I am a Muslim, can I get a hug?” and walked around on Pennsylvania Ave, Constitution Ave, Independence and in front of the Supreme Court – it restored my faith in humanity. Lots of hugs, and lots of kisses on the sign – lipstick marks on the sign –  thank God, I don’t have a wife.  It was a great experience, I went nuts with it and will do it again if need be.

POLITICAL PLURALISM
Securing Safe Zones for Refugees, a new Paradigm
Washington, DC, April 3, 2018 – Mike Ghouse with the Center for Pluralism presented a summary on “Securing Safe Zones for Refugees, a new paradigm.” Ambassador for religious freedom, Sam Brownback presided the meeting at Dirksen Senate Office building on Capitol Hill and about 100 individuals representing various organizations supporting religious freedom attended.
We need a drastic change in our policies; if we keep absorbing refugees elsewhere in different lands as they are forced out of their homes, we are essentially legitimizing the oppressors to throw anyone out without consequences.
What we need to do is create safe zones for the affected people and then work with the affected parties to restore sanity and harmony and build cohesive societies. It is not only cost-effective and preserves the social equilibrium of each nation but upholds the most cherished values of humanity, their dignity.
God willing, we will be working with Republican and Democratic congressmen to introduce the bill. It will be a bi-partisan bill. We hope to take this forward to bring about a positive change in the world. Someday in the future, no human will be evicted from his land.
If your group wants to hear the full story, I will be happy to discuss it.

FESTIVALS OF THE WORLD
This week: Cherry Blossom Festival
On Thursday, I was driving in a joyous mood towards home, the Doctor said, everything is stable! As I was passing passed thru Tidal basin in Washington thousands of people were walking around with happiness written all over their faces enjoying the bloom of cherry Blossom... damn, it was so uplifting!  You feel like singing and jumping unnecessarily… if you have not seen cherry blossoms in DC, you were not born at all.  
Here are two videos, they are ok. Next time, I’ll take them myself capturing the mood, smell, fragrance, the essence and the joy of being there. It’s a euphoric experience one should not miss
  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGHS2SDTvTk
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq0BRilAqqY
04/08/18 – Passover Seder
This major Jewish festival lasts eight days and commemorates the liberation of the Children of Israel and their Exodus from slavery in Egypt. The highlight is the Seder meal, held in each family’s home at the beginning of the festival, when the story of their deliverance is recounted, as narrated in the Haggadah (the Telling, or the Story). Matzah, (unleavened bread) is eaten throughout the festival, as are other foods that contain no leaven (yeast). There is a significant spring cleaning in the home shortly before the festival to ensure that no trace of leaven is left in the house during Pesach. Coconut pyramids and matza balls (which are put in soups) are foods that might be eaten at this time. http://centerforpluralism.com/a-passover-seder-haggadah-supplement/
04/12/18 – Yom-HaShoah
A day of remembrance when Jewish people remember the six million Jews, including one and a half million children, who were victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Memorial candles are lit and special services are held. The date is chosen as the closest date (in the Jewish calendar) to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Images_HolocaustDay/HMD2006_ProgramReport.asp
04/12/18 – Baisakhi 
In 1699, on Vaisakhi, Guru Gobind Singh, founded the Order of the Khalsa. Five men, who later came to be known as the Panj Piare (Five Beloved Ones), offered their lives when the Guru asked for volunteers. The ‘Five Ks’, the outward signs of Sikhism, were made obligatory and Sikh men took the name ‘Singh’ (lion) and women ‘Kaur’ (princess). The Order of the Khalsa was founded and the initiation ceremony, amrit, was introduced. http://centerforpluralism.com/happy-baisakhi/
04/13/18 – The Night of Meraj
This festival celebrates the journey of the Prophet Muhammad, in the tenth year of his Prophethood, from Makkah to Jerusalem, and through the heavens to the presence of God, all in one night.  Thank God, Muslims have accepted two versions of the story – one is literal and another one is the essence of the journey.
Festivals of the world
When we live as neighbors, we might as well learn about each other. The best way to build cohesive societies is for its members to understand each other’s sorrows and joys, and festivities and commemorations. Wouldn’t it be nice if you know a little bit about your neighbor’s festival and perhaps invite them to your celebrations to start safe neighborhoods by understanding each other? Every human and every religious group celebrates something or the other in their way, each one is different, but the essence is same; celebrations and commemorations. A simple language is used for most people to get a gist of it. Details are in the links.
A list of April Festivals, each week you will find a summary of the festivals of the week – http://centerforpluralism.com/festivals-of-the-world-april-2018/

WHAT DO WE DO AT CENTER FOR PLURALISM?
Pluralism is an attitude of “Respecting the otherness of others” and “accepting the God-given the uniqueness of each one of us.” You are who you are and I am who I am, neither one of us has to compromise the uniqueness of our faith, race, culture, nationality, and language.  Our purpose is to acknowledge the differences and live with least conflicts.  Pluralism News is the weekly publication of the Center for Pluralism.  You can access this anytime through www.PluralismNews.com.  We will be happy to speak to your congregation, students, friends. We can conduct a workshop in building a cohesive community, workplace or a society.  Pluralism does not mean compromise or appeasement; it is simply a development of an attitude for living with others with least conflicts.  Please email to Mike@CenterforPluralism.com
We are a non-profit organization and your donations are appreciated. http://centerforpluralism.com/donate/

RELIGIOUS PLURALISM
Hate a Muslim/ Hurt a Muslim Day
April 2, 2018, Washington, DC – A handful of misguided individuals are expressing their hate for Muslims by organizing a day with multiple names like Punish a Muslim, Hate a Muslim, Hurt a Muslim. They said, wherever you see a Muslim, be it a child, senior citizen or a woman, hurt them including ripping the head scarf off a woman. That is their plan for Tuesday, April 3, 2018.
Our Video Response: https://www.facebook.com/MikeGhouse/videos/1866050610081467/?t=1
Press Release: http://centerforpluralism.com/hate-a-muslim-day-april-3-2018/
Atheism – Number of Americans with no religious affiliations is rising
Exclusion is one of the items that break the societies. Once, I was denied membership in a multi-faith organization; they did not have a pigeon hole for me, an Atheist, in 1996. That’s when we formed the Pluralism organization to include every human except Cannibals; we would add them if they don’t us before we bring them aboard.  http://centerforpluralism.com/atheism-number-of-americans-with-no-religious-affiliation-is-rising/
Adivasi Religion, Government Body Cans Philosophy Meet
The right-leaning groups among Hindus have tried to impose their stamp of Hinduism on to those who do not consider themselves Hindus. One reason could be the RSS view that Adivasis are essentially forest-dwelling Hindus, or ‘Vanvasis’ and that their belief systems should not be treated as something independent of Hinduism. Indeed, to the extent to which Adivasi religious practices – especially in central India – do not conform to the Sangh’s idea of Hinduism, the organization has been using its network of schools and other organisations to ‘Hinduise’ them. https://thewire.in/education/objecting-to-papers-on-adivasi-religion-government-body-cans-philosophy-meet
Queen Elizabeth is related to Prophet Muhammad, so what?
So what if Queen Elizabeth is related to Prophet Muhammad, how does it matter?  Neither one gets elevated. In Islamic tradition, all are born equal, no one is superior to the other.  Even the notion of Royal blood is anathema to Islam, there is no such thing as Royal Blood or any blood to claim superiority of one over the other. http://worldmuslimcongress.org/queen-elizabeth-is-related-to-the-prophet-muhammad/
CULTURAL PLURALISM
Cultural Pluralism and Persistence in the Colonial Sierra Sur of Oaxaca, Mexico: Three Case. Studies. Stacie King … Sierra Sur, people in Nejapa and Tavela were already accustomed to making strategic choices about how to engage. … States, the islands of the Caribbean, and the continent of South America.  http://www.saa.org/Portals/0/SAA/Meetings/esymposium/Stacie_2018.pdf

Interfaith Marriages
Marriage is indeed an expression of a commitment to s relationship between two individuals.  The men and women who take the bold step to become one regardless of their origins, faiths, races, and ethnicities must be applauded. They are setting an example of how to live in harmony despite their differences.  Interfaith marriages are becoming the new norm of the society. In a few years, one out of two marriages would be of interfaith. Yes, this is across the board, whether you are a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Baha’i, Atheist or the other. According to the Pew survey, 40% of people of faiths will be marrying a person of another faith; it is higher among Jews, it is 50%. Details at – www.InterfaithMarriages.org

DONATE
We are a non-profit organization and your donations are appreciated. All that work takes time and we have to pay for the same. Please donate http://centerforpluralism.com/donate/ 
Mike Ghouse
Center for Pluralism
Washington, DC

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Pakistan - Inculcating values of tolerance in society

s

Greater efforts sought to inculcate values of tolerance in society

Courtesy - Daily Times

KARACHI: The first ever teachers’ expo, held under the aegis of ‘Badal Do’ initiative, concluded on Saturday with calls for collaboration to improve the sector education sector.
Speaking on the occasion, former federal minister Javed Jabbar said it was high time education departments of provincial governments were linked up with academic reform initiatives of the private sector so that their impact could be multiplied.
Teachers and students associated with government-run school systems, particularly those of the Sindh Education Foundation, should be made part of initiatives like ‘Badal Do’.
He said such initiatives were needed to inculcate values of tolerance, diversity, pluralism and civic responsibility among teachers.
The first panel, moderated by Rumana Hussain, was on the theme: ‘Is education all about textbooks and examinations?’
Educationist Saleem Mughal, Sheema Kirmani of Tehreek-e-Niswan, social activist Qurrat Mirza and Sana Barni of SABAQ were the panelists. They stressed the use of creative techniques as part of education and character building measures during schooling.
Another panel discussion was moderated by Afia Salam on the following theme: how well do students understand the world they live in?
Humaira Bachal of Dream Foundation Trust, Farieha Aziz of Bolo Bhi, Nazia Hasan of I Am Karachi, senior journalist Wusatullah Khan and Tasneem Ahmer of Uks Media and Research were the panellists. They highlighted that disparities in the education system of the country were preventing many students from realizing their full potential. However, they said how those who remained focused could still break down barriers, provided an enabling environment was provided to them.
Alongside these panel discussions, Badal Do Expo also featured graduation of the over 400 teachers based in Karachi in the first phase of a training. The participating schools were awarded shields by Shahnaz Wazir Ali, former special assistant to the prime minister and ex-chairperson of Higher Education Commission
Speaking on the occasion, she said the initiative had rightly targeted school teachers as they were the most effective agents of change in the society.
The expo showcased the work done by teachers during the training. Senior journalist Zubeida Mustafa inaugurated the exhibition of photographs taken during the training, reflecting on their perception of diversity and plurality. The photographic exhibition featured some of the best historical, cultural, and heritage sites of Karachi.
The short films made by them on social messages were also screened at the exhibition.
In the next phase, the ‘Badal Do’ initiative plans to target a broader community engaging the entire system of schooling including the management, teachers, and students, as well as parents, guardians and other community members, through involvement of 5,000 teachers in 300 schools of the city.
At the event on Monday, there were performances by Zambeel Readings, Tehreek-e-Niswan, Sounds of Kolachi, and The Sketches band, besides story telling sessions for children, and stalls by educational publishers and educational tools companies.
The expo ended with pledges by many schools to become part of the Badal Do way forward.
They all demanded for calling collaboration between government and citizens-based initiatives in the arena of education especially to improve school learning methodologies.
Published in Daily Times, February 27th 2018.

Lebanese interreligious foundation Adyan awarded Niwano Peace Prize


·       Good News keeps coming
Mik

    Courtesy CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
Feb 20, 2018


In this 2013 file photo, interreligious leaders gather in Beirut for Adyan Foundation's launch of their first toolkit for faith-based educational institutions on values of citizenship and public life. (Credit: CNS photo/courtesy Adyan Foundation.
·          Lebanese interreligious foundation Adyan awarded Niwano Peace Prize
BEIRUT - Adyan, a Lebanese foundation for interreligious studies and spiritual solidarity, is the recipient of the 35th Niwano Peace Prize.

Lebanon now moves “a firm step further toward its recognition as a world center for dialogue between cultures and religions,” said Maronite Father Fadi Daou, president of Adyan Foundation, in announcing the international award in Beirut Feb. 19.

“Peace has a specific name in Lebanon, and that is ‘living-together,'” he added.
Daou is one of the five founders of Adyan (“religions” in Arabic), each of whom are followers of different denominations of Christianity and Islam.

Since its foundation in 2006, Adyan “has worked to take interreligious dialogue from apologetic debates and populist complacency, to a common commitment in what we call ‘religious social responsibility,'” Daou said.

The Tokyo-based Niwano Peace Foundation established the Niwano Peace Prize in 1983 to honor and encourage individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to interreligious cooperation, thereby furthering the cause of world peace. It is named for Nikkyo Niwano, founder and first president of the lay Buddhist organization Rissho Kosei-kai.

The award’s selection committee commended Adyan for valuing “religious diversity in promoting peace and social justice” and cited Adyan as “a visible and committed actor for peace in Lebanon and the broader region.”

Past Niwano Peace Prize recipients include Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara; Jordanian Prince El Hassan bin Talal; retired Archbishop Elias Chacour of Haifa, Israel; the late Bishop Samuel Ruiz Garcia of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico; Father Hans Kung, a Swiss theologian; the World Muslim Congress; and the Sant’Egidio Community.

Daou recalled St. John Paul II’s declaration that “Lebanon is more than a country, it is a message” of coexistence for East and West.

“I really believe that this award, coming from Japan, is ‘another voice’ - now from the East - to remind us of what John Paul II said,” the priest said.

“Worldwide, peace today signifies justice and the liberation of oppressed people,” Daou said. “It also means stopping the implication of religion in political choices and ending linking religion to violence and extremism.”

While it is important to discover what is common among religions, Daou noted, even more important is “to discover the differences between religions and to educate people - especially the youth - to respect those differences, as an expression of our belief in freedom of conscience and our refusal of all forms of coercion and takfirism (considering others as infidels),” he said.

Daou said the “problematic reality” in the Middle East “pushes us to go a step further in order to promote interreligious solidarity in the combat of extremism and of injustice.”

Recent Adyan initiatives include offering interfaith mediation dialogue and peace education to vulnerable Syrian citizens, both in Lebanon and Syria. In Iraq, working with journalists and civil society activists, Adyan focuses on spreading the values of inclusive citizenship and interreligious solidarity, particularly to heal the society from the traumas of Islamic State.

Daou said that Adyan will continue on its path “for the adoption of pluralism as a social and political value in Arab countries.”

“It will also work for the promotion of resilience to all forms of extremism and for the development of social cohesion, spiritual solidarity, intercivilizational encounter and world stability,” he added.

By 2016, a decade after its foundation, Adyan had more than 3,000 members with some 35,000 direct beneficiaries in 29 countries.

The Niwano Peace Prize ceremony will take place in Tokyo May 9.