In Defense of Religion…

You know it’s bad when I have to start a blog off with this title.  And yet here I am.  Those that know me well know that I don’t claim any brand of religion.  I grew up in various forms of the Christian church.  I’ve had some awesome times while in church focusing on my spiritual life.  I’ve met some life long friends.  I wouldn’t trade my experiences for a life void of it.  And yet I had my reasons for leaving.  I don’t see myself going back.  But my faith and recognition of a supreme being, an architect of this universe has not wavered.  In my view, we are what the rock band The Police called, “Spirits in a Material World.”

Religion has taken some hits as of late.  Comedian and self described atheist Bill Maher makes it his business to go after religion on just about every HBO broadcast show that bears his name.  I agree with probably 90% of what he says about certain religious doctrines, whether it be from Judaism, Christianity or Islam.  (The main three in America)  It’s the other 10% that I don’t agree with that bothers me.

Reza Aslan was right when he said that Maher lacks ‘religious sophistication.’  He tend to lump all ‘religious people’ into a mixing bowl defining them as lunatics and fairy tale believers.  He leaves no room for nuance and complexities.  As Aslan mentioned recently during a commentary from CBS Sunday Morning,

“…But if we’re going to have an honest discussion about religion, let’s first begin by understanding what we’re even talking about when we say the word “religion.  … religion is not just about the things you believe or the rituals you follow. It’s about who you are as a human being — how you see the world and your place in it. …Consider this: around 70 percent of Americans describe themselves as Christian. Now, does that mean 70 percent of Americans go to church on Sundays? Or that 70 percent of Americans read the Bible regularly? Or that 70 percent of Americans could tell you much about Jesus Christ other than he was born in a manger and died on a cross?  … for a great many of that 70 percent, the phrase “I am Christian” is synonymous with “I am American.” In other words, it is a statement of identity, as much as it is a statement of belief.”

bill_maher-Ben-Afleck-AP-HBO

This isn’t just Maher’s shortcoming.  It’s the problem with many atheist who go on the offensive slandering people of differing faiths.

I have been arguing Aslan’s point for years, even when I was in church!   Christianity in action is as vast as the planet we live on.  Christian sects and denominations both emphasize and de-emphasize differing parts of the bible in a way that suits their preferences.  Biblical scriptures have been used as a means to free slaves and justify slavery.  I once stood up in church and said, “There are two different Jesus’ in America. Ones a progressive and the other a white supremacist.”  It’s the same with Muslims and the Koran.  Differing sects value and dismiss aspects of their holy book in a way that is satisfactory to their own internal ethics.  Therefore, it is unsophisticated and indeed pointless to argue religion and religious philosophies as a world view, as opposed to targeted discrimination, crimes,  and ‘human’ atrocities.

As an example of targeting and respect, I take religious folk to task often when I believe they use their religious doctrine to oppress others.  And yet there are times as a sports official that I work in Christian environments.  When I go to a school that happens to pray before sporting events, I don’t have to bow my head.  But I do.  Every prayer in this case revolves around being thankful, praying for the safety of the participants, (children) and often attitudes during competition.  I am for all of these.  I respect the spirit of that prayer.

Religions are neither good nor bad.  It’s people that build or destroy.  Religion is often a justification for either.  I have yet to see a Koran behead a man.   The bible never enslaved anyone.  These are books, whether one believes the words within to be sacred text or not.  Blaming religion for crimes and injustices is like blaming Facebook when a spouse cheats.  If many atheist had their way they would eliminate all religions yesterday.  But that wouldn’t take away the tendency of man to separate, discriminate or oppress one another based on other factors such as class, ethnic background, eye color, height and any other difference we have between one another.  It’s just how we roll.  Humans tend to want to be a part of something. Being a part of a group makes people feel significant and validated.  That’s neither good nor bad. It’s benign.  The issue is a lack of respect for others; dismissing other faiths/beliefs with an, ‘I’m right you’re wrong’ attitude.

People have used religion to justify and execute their own prejudices for thousands of years.  Religion is used as a method  to get rich by many of it’s leaders.  But so are politics.  I’m reticent to curse religion by definition.  Simply because as much that can be said against it, equally true people are religiously motivated to serve humanity and better our world. They feed the poor, visit the sick, fund worthy projects that serve the least of us, and so forth. They pray for others as means of offering comfort and support.

This brings me back to the atheist and the original point of this blog.  They should not be put in a box either.  Some tend to their own business and leave religious folk alone.  But far too many lately have turned into a vicious gang of bullies looking to defame and crush any and everyone who chooses to have faith in something beyond themselves.  Just like a religious zealot, these god-less zealots stand on high pointing a ‘superior’ finger at entire groups who don’t share their views. Their jokes, condescension and ridicule are no more refined as the religious bigots they abhor.

10151317_10204754621922257_1438840004925395368_n

To those I say:

What makes you so great?  What gives you moral authority?  You who had no say whatsoever in your own existence, when you were born, what family you were born into, or what country.  Neil Degrass Tyson speeches may challenge the life span of the earth as compared to the bible, but they have not nor will they conclude beyond reasonable doubt that there is no supreme being behind what is seen and unseen.   Science is not an enemy to origin, only towards certain dogma.  You can’t explain the origins of LIFE…or why if life reproduces after life, (reproduction) what are the origins of original life. Can you explain intuition if it’s not spiritual?  What is the point of natural life as we know it?  I don’t know and you sure as hell don’t either!  In essence you have FAITH that there is no supreme being.  Scientific discoveries are ever expanding.  But it merely explains what was already there before ‘discovery.’ What is understood today will be expanded upon further or even refuted 25 years from now. And yet you stand unwavering not just against religious dogma, (which I happen to stand with you on) but the existence of supreme altogether. Sorry, you are not exempt in this faith game.

The most effective way to oppose the degradation of people in the name of religion is to target our attacks.  There is no ambiguity when it comes to ISIS for instance.  They are a bunch of rag tag psychopaths. Just because they claim to be Muslim doesn’t mean there is a Muslim problem.  It’s an ISIS problem.  I don’t care what Christians, Muslims or Jews think of homosexuals, black folk and many other issues in society. I do care about actions that hurt, harm or discriminate against people.

For the rest of what is left of civilization as we know it, people are going to believe different things.  Blaming their beliefs solely for their actions is not going to cut it.  I suggest non believers start from where you are and ‘evolve’ in learning to find commonalities.  Educate without all the personal hate.  Enough with your high horse already!  If your dogma can’t handle this, then your atheism is too a religion.

Advertisements

Religion, Ignorance the Problem, not Faith!

I was watching CBS Sunday morning last week (one of my favorite TV programs) and this particular segment on organized religion caught my attention.

Sometimes, I’m amazed at how many times we don’t think things through as a nation, as a people.  As advanced and thirsty for knowledge as we can be in other areas such as technology and science, we seem to be willingly prehistoric, simple and horribly less evolved when it comes to the subject of faith and religion than any other.

This all tends to create a major cluster-fu#! of ideologies.

Take this shirt for instance. (pictured below) After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, pictures like these flooded
Facebook and other social media timelines.  Let’s break down the dialogue and see if it jives with anything more than an ideological and political smokescreen:

dear-god-you-are-not-allowed-on-t-shirts

Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools?

Signed a concerned Student

Dear Concerned Student: I’m not allowed in schools.

God

This sort of message comes from the perspective of some Christians.  It’s directly related to the Supreme Court’s Ruling in 1962 via the Establishment Clause of the Constitution that made it illegal for the government to endorse religious practices in public schools. Since that decision the cries have been frequently ongoing from the conservative right lamenting that this law is somehow an affront to God.

The two scenarios are as follows:

1) That this law literally takes God’s divine presence out of public schools.

2) That tragedies are God’s punishment to the law.

Let’s examine scenario #1: This is the message of the t-shirt.  When I grew up in church I was taught that God was omnipotent.  That God’s presence is everywhere in the earth and the universe for that matter.  I was taught that the presence of God dwells not in buildings, but in the hearts of man. (Acts 7:48, Ephesians 3:17)

When I was in school, I prayed all the time.  I prayed to pass a test that I studied hard for, (or didn’t).  I prayed at lunchtime before consuming some of the worst foods that could be served to children.  My faith in the Divine was always within me.  There was no law that could ever legislate that away.  And so it is today.  If one honestly believes God to be all powerful, then to say God could literally be limited in some way by government is ridiculous.  It’s impossible, illogical and totally antithetical to any form of sound teaching.  I mean either God is or is not who those who follow God say God is.  And if God is, then how in the hell can one keep God out of schools or any other place for that matter.

Banning public school endorsed religious expressions actually does more to protect students of faith.  Seeing that not all Christian sects share the same specifics, how are children who aren’t raised Christian supposed to function healthily in a hostile Christian environment.  Are Muslims or Hindu’s going to get to pray their way too without ridicule?  (Well all know the answer to that!) And what about those whose parents don’t subscribe to prayer at all?

How can one expect to learn math and English if there is constant fighting about Muhammad vs. Jesus?  Since we obviously can’t play fair and respect anyone else’s views, as far as the classroom goes I’d rather keep faith expressions where they belong, in the privacy of hearts, and minds.

dobson

The latest example of the 2nd scenario comes from James Dobson who said that the shooting was a result of God’s judgment or revenge against the nation for allowing gay marriage and abortion.

There are so many things wrong with this kind of rhetoric.  It bastardizes the hurt of the families in Connecticut.  Dobson is doing what others like Pat Robertson have done for decades.  Blaming high profile crimes and natural disasters on God’s so called hate of ‘fags’ and a nation that has turned it’s proverbial back on God.  Its ignorant and blasphemous!  These false “profits” (yes I spelled it correctly) are in effect blaming God for evil; for slaying adults and children as some sort of payback.  Dobson is making himself out as God’s henchman.  Like a gangster movie where the muscle comes to extort the local business owner.  “The boss says if you don’t pay him his cut, well, I hope you have fire insurance.”

This is part of the reason why there are so many of the so called nones in the nation today as illustrated in the CBS piece.  People have grown tired and irritated of religious zealots with these hair brained ideas about who and what God is.  To these idiots, God is a finger waging children slaying gladiator out to uphold all things politically conservative.  These same ‘profits of rage’ never speak of hunger, poverty, racism, classism, racial injustices, cheating and lying preachers as reasons for ‘god’s punishment.’

If their theologies were true of God’s punishment of America, there wouldn’t be a nation on earth that doesn’t proclaim to be a Christian one in existence today.  Their God would have already destroyed them.  That would include Israel in that they don’t believe Jesus is The Messiah.

mafia

Religion: The Enemy of Faith

These religious wars have always been around and will always be.  Unfortunately faith and relationship with The Divine has gotten a bad name.

I have faith in The Divine.  I believe that I am an extension of The Divine.  I believe I have been created, that I have a purpose in this life and what I do, and how I relate to others who were created by The Divine matters.

My mother is a great woman of faith.  She will swear that who and what I am now is a direct result of years of nightly prayers for me.  Who am I to argue with that?

I, and many people like myself are people of faith who don’t subscribe to the character of The Divine being defined for us by people whose ideology are so flawed that only their own arrogance keeps them from recognition.  I support a faith that loves all of man kind.  A faith that comforts the lonely, feeds the hungry and have compassion on the sick.  I support a faith that protects, nurtures and trains children to inherit the next generation and take it as far as they can.  I support a faith that loves justice and compassion equally; that explores the individual and the collective benefactors of the human and humanity.  And I’m good with that.

Things of Faith, Man and the Search for Universal Truth

My faith journey has come a long way.

From a theological perspective, I was raised in the Judaea Christian traditions within various denominations. Through the years I have been taught by the church, inspired, motivated, fooled, disillusioned, angry, resentful, ashamed of, and even restored.

Regardless of my personal experiences with dogma and the organization of religion my faith in the Supreme has never diminished. My belief system is simple and complicated, spiritual and natural, scientific and unexplained.

I could never subscribe to the atheist belief that there is no Supreme Being. To me atheistic thinking dismisses a serious explanation for the origin for life. In other words, I haven’t seen evidence of any life form without their first being life to reproduce itself after its kind. Even if creationism from a religious perspective is not a viable option, just a look at the sun, moon and the stars, all of the living creatures, the way the cycles of the earth rotates, lives, nurtures, replenishes and sustain itself with its inhabitants; I find it illogical that all of that which we behold and witness is without thought, planning and design. In this way I don’t judge the concept of atheism. What I can say is that I don’t get it.

galaxy-1

As much as I like Bill Mahr and admire his political satire, I think he sounds like a fool when he arrogantly dismisses any possibility of a higher power. His brain is so creative, that he can actually talk himself out of acknowledging his own lack of having anything to do with it. He depends on air he breathes to live, and yet it does not keep him alive. Think about it. Oxygen is all around those dying every day. At some point everyone will take in their last breath. And all the oxygen on the earth can’t give you another breath once that last one has been exhaled. With all the riches, wealth and resources in the world one cannot give him more life. Nor does anyone have the power to ask and receive it initially at the beginning of a natural life.

A study of the massive sophistication and depth of DNA alone should prompt one to believe that this world, this universe, even our humanity was intentional. This is why I believe the atheist argument comes up horribly short. There is just too much genius around us that we had nothing to do with to call it all random.

What Mahr and I share along with others who believe as he does however, is the disdain for those seeking to validate and promote ‘God’ only as they see Him in such a fashion that it boxes his breadth and scope down to moral, theological and geo-political bents. I too scoff at the limitations and lack of critical thinking skills people subject themselves to in order to follow a bunch of laws and standards written by mortal, flawed, and often agenda driven men. I can resonate with his frustration of people who refuse to observe and work through critical issues with a reality based point of view as opposed to choosing to hide head-in-sand and quote scripture so as to eliminate the need of such deeper or even more simplistic considerations.

I get it. But that doesn’t answer the questions of life, the potential and capabilities of the human mind and body, the spirit world, and the universe. The fact that in the wild a lion and a deer will drink from the same water brook and if the lion is not hungry, not only will he not so much as bother the deer, but that the deer instinctively knows it. Man, in all of his ingenuity, intellect, skill and passion have only learned and understood so much of it. He certainly hasn’t been able to define it.

My basic understanding of myself, my surroundings, my instincts, makes me curious, and awestruck on the subject of the Supreme Being. Though I have identified my beliefs through Christian lenses most of my life, I have studied various religions and beliefs among men. Lessons from Christianity as well as other faiths have helped me greatly. Still I’ve rejected many pieces of doctrines. Through it all here I stand; still seeking, still desiring, and still stretching to find the source of my own significance.

black-jesus

As of now I don’t really claim any specific religion. Though if you pushed me, I would still lean towards a very loose and selective portion of Christianity. Not for any special reason. This is simply the environment I was brought up in and therefore most familiar with. It’s second nature. I love gospel music and can often find myself blissfully swept away in its messages of worship, submission and hope. One of my mentors the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was a Christian man who lived the most dedicated and faithful life I have ever seen in a human. Yet I admire and respect the life of Malcolm X especially after he split from The Nation of Islam and went in a direction that he believed was more beneficial to his perspective of the way he saw his Creator. Am I to say that Shuttlesworth knew God because he called him Jesus or that Malcolm’s aligning himself with Allah did not? There is hardly no religious sect that does not have within it members who believe and have evidence that their prayers have been answered. There are unexplained ‘miracles’ happening everyday regardless of faith type. Thing begs to question, “Does the Supreme have an exclusive name?” Only religious people think so. Or is He so awesome and self-assured that He is not hung up on and limited by that kind of thing? – Man actually giving Him a name that will sum Him up. Even as I write this I only say ‘Him’ as a reference point. I don’t know that The Supreme has a gender.

This proves that the biggest hindrance to understanding The Supreme is defining the revelation of His presence and purpose solely through a religious bent.

I have learned to settle in and take what I believe one step at a time; one lesson at a time; one experience at a time. And with those I focus on that which I am comfortable with. Which are a basic set of principles that I live by. (At least try to live by most of the time.)

Faith

Faith is first just an acknowledgment and recognition of a centralized presence. I don’t believe He/She/It needs to be called Jesus or any other religious or secular name. I believe in this Power that is so brilliant beyond measure, beautiful, and peaceful. The Universe has been created in such a way that it would take perhaps a million lifetimes just to scratch the surface of what is really going on out there. Names are too limited to describe The Ultimate. That is about as far as I am willing to take it as of now.

Do I believe this Universal entity cares about what happens to me personally? Yes. This is because I don’t believe all of this is by chance. If I’m correct then there has to be a purpose. Anyone who is aware of his purpose cares about fulfilling that purpose. With that I am able to give thanks and blessings many times per day to The Supreme for all that I am blessed to behold.  Sometimes, I even submit a few prayer request along the way.

Personal Purpose/Destiny

This is a tough one. Because most people either believe that they have a specific purpose on earth that a higher power has in mind or they don’t. Others believe we make our own decisions no matter what. I fall in the middle of both world views. For example, none of us had anything to do with us being here. That includes when we were born, where we were born, or to what family. We couldn’t decide what color we were going to be, whether male or female, and so forth. There are so many things that were not in our original control.

And yet as the species on earth we call mankind, we have the ability to create, build, reproduce, expand, grow, and it goes on and on. Our decisions shape the direction of not only our lives, but those around us as well as those who come after us. Decisions made by only a few throughout history have led to generational worldwide rewards and consequences.

With this I believe that many, but not every aspect of my life has been fully intentional. I am thankful for my time, my space, and my opportunity to do whatever it is I am supposed to do. I am abundantly grateful for everyday believing that my universe is saying something to me and beckoning me to respond for my own benefit, and the benefit of others. I believe that if enough of us do that, we will experience even greater awakenings, recognition, and access to this Universe.

            Islam7

Morals

Morals are a very subjective from person to person. I believe that morals must come from within, not just what is taught within a society to preserve order; though order is necessary. Some people are comfortable with doing things and living by certain principals that others are not. My morals are a combination of what I have been taught as a youth, as well as what I have grown to understand as an adult. Since I am still growing, segments and pieces of my moral code are still being refined. What has remained consistent is to live by a standard in which my conscious remains clear of guilt and that my life is one of freedom and not bondage. I believe that many of the unhappy, unsatisfied and destructive people on earth are ones whom live against their own conscious. I can’t speak for those whom seem not to have a conscious at all. Still I have to live by my own. I desire that my life continues to project that which is less harmful but more liberating to me as well as my environment.

Who is The Supreme Being/God?

I absolutely don’t know the answer to that. I believe that God is spirit as I am though much greater. I don’t believe God is fixated by what we call he/she/it like most organized religions i.e. Christianity, (Jehovah, Christ) Islam (Allah) and so forth. I believe that mankind has had various reasons for wanting to segregate God into something they are comfortable with. Certainly having a book such as the bible for instance, makes following God or expressing faith more focused. For now I choose experiencing and receiving whatever it is I may learn and absorb whether it be from a religious context or not. My trust is that The Supreme knows how to get a message to me when it’s time. And that I will receive it as long as I stay open. I’m not afraid to fail at this. I embrace all of the possibilities and resources imaginable at this point.

Organized Religion

In spite of my critique, I am not down on organized religion as a whole. I believe that Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Zen, and many others has served millions well over the centuries. Organized religious morality has influenced many peaceful societies as most of them promote treating one another in a loving and civilized way. Most promote growth and spirituality. Most promote submission to a higher authority and less self-seeking. Most emphasize sacrifice and giving towards something much bigger than the individual person who claims its faith.

Most have had their downfalls as well. So many wars, forms of oppression, and crimes against humanity result from religious beliefs and zeal. This is not only true of Christianity and Islam. Human sacrifices for instance took place long before Columbus set foot on the shores of the Americas. Nobody’s hands are clean. There has been and continues to be both good and bad.

            Tian Tan Buddha

Afterlife

Since I don’t believe that our lives are our bodies, I don’t believe that life ceases without the body. I believe our bodies are Earth suits. With them we move about upon the land or the sea. The earth is our bodily home. We live here for a time and season. It is here that we eat, sleep, love, share, learn etc… Perhaps our earthly time is training for something else that has nothing to do with our bodies. I just don’t know. And I don’t know that anyone really does.

I know many people whom I trust said a relative who have died or have been released from their natural bodies visited them in a spiritual form. Perhaps those who are ‘dead’, in body, help watch over us who remain. Perhaps there are differing dimensions that continue in cycles past our earthly lives. I don’t have a clue!

But I’m OK with that right now. For now I want to concern myself with the form of life I am experiencing now. And I will have to let the other work itself out. It’s definitely outside of my pay grade. If I can make this one count for something good, then I trust things will work out in the end… well, if there is one.

In Faith, Me

 

Uhhhh Not Sure I Get This…

Ann Holmes Redding says she sees no contradiction in being both a Christian minister and a Muslim.

Hey, I am a pretty liberal person when it comes to honoring people’s beliefs.  I also have many questions of both Christianity and Islam.  But claiming dual religions? 

Even I don’t get that!

This sista is confused.  Because the question of Christianity is the question of Jesus and whether he holds a place of deification, and whether he is indeed the son of god.  Christians who use the bible clearly believe that. 

This is not so for the Muslim.  They believe Jesus is a prophet like Muhammad… I would argue not even as significant. 

So she may take things from both religions that she may enjoy when it comes to worship or teachings.  But just by virtue of the doctrines she cannot be both.  It’s impossible!

Commentary from Nafees A. Sayed – by way of CNN.com

Harvard University student Nafees Syed says both candidates should reach out to Muslims in the U.S.

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) — During this election, we have seen the spectacle of two presidential candidates fighting over one voter while snubbing an entire segment of the American population worthy of their attention.

We in the Muslim-American community look wistfully at people like Joe the Plumber, wishing that we too could be courted for our vote by the presidential candidates.

At the same time, we look gratefully at figures like former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who reassure us that there is hope for greater acceptance of Muslim-Americans.

Over time, we grew to expect standoffish treatment from the Republican Party. Almost a decade ago, many Muslims, my parents included, supported President Bush for his humble foreign policy stances, strong family values and reaching out to the Muslim-American community.

Things have obviously changed since September 11, 2001, and we have grown used to anti-Muslim rhetoric from Republican candidates. We have run like refugees to the Democratic Party, only to find reluctant tolerance and hope that we will go somewhere else.

American civil rights activist and intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois wrote, “[The American Negro] simply wishes it possible to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly on his face.”

Over a century later, I and many other Muslim-Americans feel the same, hoping that we can be accepted in America as both Muslims and Americans.

As a college student voting in my first presidential election, I have been inspired by Barack Obama’s call for change. My campus is full of Obama posters, and several of my classmates have taken time off to work for his campaign.

There is no doubt Obama has the Harvard vote, but my vote will not be cast as enthusiastically as others.

This campaign means to me what it means for my classmates. In the next few years, the economy and American foreign policy will affect my generation unlike any other, and those concerns are the primary influences on my vote.

However, as a Muslim-American, I see some issues as more personal. I don’t blame Obama for clarifying that he isn’t a Muslim; if someone misidentified my religion, I would likewise point out the facts, especially if it was part of a larger smear campaign. However, as the first Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison stated, “A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way.”

Indeed, Obama’s responses to accusations that he is Muslim should be more than just denial; they should be a condemnation of the prejudices that lace such accusations.

When I discuss this issue with fellow Muslim-Americans, especially ones who have dedicated significant time to his campaign, I immediately hear that he’s just doing what he needs to do to win.

I respond skeptically to these arguments. Is it really politically necessary for Obama to avoid visiting mosques — something that President Bush has dared to do — while rallying support from churches and synagogues? Doesn’t his careful distance from the Muslim-American community contradict his message of unity?

Still, others, my parents included, advise that it is best that we as Muslim-Americans avoid marring his campaign with our visible support at a time when any connection with Muslims would jeopardize his chances of winning. They reason that we have to politically isolate ourselves for the better candidate to win, a sacrifice we should make for our country.

I am unwilling to feign political apathy. All I want is for one of the candidates to assure me and the American public that “Muslim” and “American” are not mutually exclusive terms.

Colin Powell’s recent interview with Tom Brokaw has left me with some hope. He highlights the flaw in the question of Obama’s religion with the answer, “he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian. … But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.”

To prove his point, Gen. Powell recounted the story of Purple Heart- and Bronze Star-winning Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, an American soldier in Iraq who sacrificed his life for his country. He represents a Muslim-American community that is dedicated to its country and worthy of the presidential candidates’ attention and respect.

It is a tribute to Gen. Powell’s own dedication to his country that he would take note of the treatment of Muslim-Americans during the elections.

Thanks, Gen. Powell. You said the words that Muslim-Americans around the country were waiting to hear.

A Call To Oneness – A Success!

The interfaith movement targeted at stopping the violence and reclaiming the streets of the St. Louis metropolitan area named, “A Call To Oneness” started off in fine fashion.  Friday nights panel discussion for the men had a healthy mix of professionals from all walks of life.  The panelist included Eric Rhone,(Entertainment/Business manager) Hon. Judge Jimmy Edwards, (Chief Juvenile Court City of St. Louis) Eugene  Willingham, (CEO, A Soldier of God Clothing) Kenneth Boyd (Author, Know Thyself Psychologically) William Polite, (Educator/ Author, “Hood Infectious Virus) Troy Buchanan, (Health Education/Youth Activity Instructor) and James Muhammad. (Dynasty Hip-Hop Inc. Mentoring Program)  The program held at Shalom Church City of Peace was moderated by former St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr and facilitated by Jacque Land of 100 Black Men of St. Louis.   All of the speakers were informative and real.  They shared openly about their experiences and what the responsibilities are for the older and younger men.   During the question and answer period the younger teens were given first priority to ask questions.  Legendary civil rights leader Norman Seay and St. Louis Urban League head James Buford were given awards for their long time community service.

Saturday there were a host of workshops for the “Day of Information and Implementation” given.  On Sunday the “Day of Worship, Witness & Reconciliation” march took place.  The turnout was impressive as 20-25 thousand men packed the streets of St. Louis starting at Page and Kingshighway.  The march ended at Tandy Park in the city’s mostly African-American north side of town.   Women and children lined the streets cheering on the men as they marched and called for “One” meaning one community.  At the park park there were speeches given by some of the more prominent and influential politicians in the area and the game plan was laid out for the next steps of the long term “Oneness” agenda. 

First there will be units of block organizers and facilitators who will go door to door in order to pull local communities togehter.  Second an organizing of men 35 and under who will serve as mentors for as many younger boys and men as possible.  Overall this is just the beginning, but there was a definite commitment from both the Christian and Muslim leadership involved to make this mission a permanent one.  Big ups to the visionary of this collaborative mission Rev. Dr. F. James Clark, pastor of Shalom Church, and his committee including Minister Donald Muhammad for bringing this together. 

The day was awesome and the unity was beautiful.  I had never seen that many people gathered for anything in the City of St. Louis.  We even got coverage from CNN!  I pray this will help bring our community together and promote the unity we desperately need. 

Photo Gallery ~ L-R from the top

1. Panel Discusson 2. Judge Jimmy Edwards 3. Dr. Clark, Norman Seay, Min. Muhammad, Jacque Land, 4. Motor Cycle Convoy lining up for the march, 5. The Kappas 6. The Q’s 7. The Leaders starting the march 8. The Black Panter Party 9. The Community of Marchers 10. Women of Islam 11. State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed 12. The Leaders make the Call To Oneness 13. Myself with St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwa 14. Myself and Normal Seay 15. Alderman Mike McMillan 16. Minister Donald Muhammad 17. Movin The Crowd 18. Minister James Muhammad