American Muslim Agenda

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American Muslim Agenda is a chapter from the book American Muslim Agenda available at Amazon and Kindle

Twelve Agenda Items

Our vision is a cohesive America—an America where each one of us feels secure with our ethnicity, culture, race, and religion—where we would learn to respect the otherness of others and to accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of us. All of us, the 323 million of us, will have a personal interest that would be as unique as our thumbprint and a public interest that would be familiar to all. It would be one America and one nation with liberty and justice for all.

Everything begins with strategic planning. In this chapter, we will be envisioning an outcome, putting an effective plan together to achieve them.

Vision: A Muslim Woman President of the United States of America

No one has ever achieved anything without seeking it. The American Muslims have to come out of the cave and live in the big world with all others.

As a member of the diverse family of faiths, our efforts must be directed toward justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind, with a firm grounding in commonly held values. We cannot have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is right for Muslims has got to be good for the world and vice versa for the goodness to sustain.

This book The American Muslim Agenda is a roadmap for Muslim integration. We have to be one with all—“e pluribus unum” as the motto. This book will hopefully put us through the exercise of setting our goals and contributing toward a prosperous future of our society.

Here is the outline of The American Muslim Agenda—the things we have to do to move toward the fulfillment of our vision.

⦁ Preface
⦁ What Should Be Our Goal?
⦁ Are Muslims a Part of the American Story?
⦁ How Do We Change?
⦁ Where Did We Go Wrong?
⦁ Justice Alone Cannot Carry Us Far
⦁ Setting Our Priorities
⦁ Muslim Leadership
⦁ The President of the United States of America

The American Muslim Agenda is intended to cause discussions and spur actions to lead us to become fully integrated citizens of America. Thanks to our Founding Fathers for blessing this land with the ideals of democracy, freedom, and justice for all. It resonates with Muslims. Indeed, that is the kind of society Prophet Muhammad had envisioned, and America fulfills that dream of Muslims to be free and brave, and they pray for this blessed land every day.

Muslims around the world see us as a thriving model community, mainly where they are the majority. They can see us succeed in a system that is good for all humans and hope they will choose to emulate our democracy and our ideals. May God bless the whole world with freedom to be who they want to be.

Professor Sachedina had traced the “Islamic roots of democratic pluralism.” In his book of the same title, Islam is designed to be a democracy, and monarchy, communism, and dictatorship are anathema to the principles of Islam.

Prophet Muhammad did not rule his subjects; he called them all his ummah—that is, his community—be it Jews, Christians, pagans, Muslims, and others. Each community lived by their religious laws. That was the essence of the Madinah charter that he initiated for all his ummah to live freely and practice their faith. Think about it. Was the Prophet’s government Islamic or pluralistic?

The Prophet was not a king to pass on the public property he managed to his kin. It was not his, to begin with, to share. He considered himself a trustee of the estate he led. After his death, a process of consultation began to appoint the next leader, and the leader was instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. An analogy exists in our immoral Declaration of Independence.

Five administrations in a row followed that principle, starting with Hazrat Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, and Hasan. Allah was pleased with them for being righteous. The sixth one, Mu’awiyah, screwed up the system and claimed himself to be a monarch, albeit using the same title caliph, or administrator. That was in AD 661, and for the next 1,259 years, Muslims did not see the light of the democracy.

Turkey became the first democracy in 1920 with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk leading as their first prime minister. Of course, most nations chose democracies in the mid-twentieth century, but unfortunately, most of the Muslim-majority nations are still theocracies, dictatorships, and monarchies.

Once, Sean Hannity pushed me to name one stable democracy in the Muslim world, and I proudly recited Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bosnia. Sadly, Erdogan will flip Turkey into another dictatorship.

Democracy cannot be imposed. President Bush was surrounded by nincompoops to give him such bad advice. Democracy is learned through educating onself, meeting different people, and learning to respect the otherness of others. If we had spent tenth of what was blown in Iraq and Afghanistan on opening schools there and spent the rest here in America retraining millions of Americans who had lost their jobs, we would have had a better world today.

Sunnis are not safe in Iran and Iraq. Shias are not secure in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and elsewhere, and the Ahmadiyya Muslims are not safe in any one of the Islamic nations. It is embarrassing to know that we have allowed a few freaks among us to call the other an infidel, violating the very idea of Islam that no one gets to judge others’ faith but God. Shirk—that is, acting and judging one’s faith in behalf of God—is the greatest sin in Islam, and we have plenty of sinners out there.

The American Muslims are blessed with freedom. We can be a role model for the world by setting an example. The only advantage we have over any Muslim anywhere is freedom. Indeed, democracy is a natural fit for a majority of Muslims, and they are most comfortable and self-assured in democracies. As our Jewish friends, Muslims will be significant contributors toward making America a great nation.

Everyone does well when there is freedom of religion, speech, and press. We are all born free, and that must be understood. Muslims and Muslim-managed nations need to reset their priorities and have a plan for the future. That is another chapter for another day. My focus in this book is Muslims in the United States and other democracies.

The American Muslim Agenda is about looking past the short-term setbacks and seeing further out beyond the next seven generations. How do we shape a society where each one of us, not just Muslims but each one of the 323 million Americans, feels safe and secure in what they drink, eat, wear, and believe?

The good news is, for the conservatives among us, guidance is available in the Quran, and examples of the Prophet abound to chart the right course for humanity. However, for a majority of Muslims, Islam is common sense.

Unfortunately, the Muslims have been misled by the right-wing scholars (chapter on “The Source of Muslim Extremism”) of the past. They have distorted the pluralistic teachings of the Prophet and presented Islam as a political entity. Islam is not a governmental entity, and it is spiritual and social guidance to live in harmony with oneself and fellow humans.

Let’s start with the definition of the word Muslim—a generic word to mean “a good citizen.” Good citizenship requires that each one of us safeguard our own lives and what surrounds us—life and matter. We should put behind the old thinking that worshipping the specific name “Allah,” keeping a beard, wearing a hijab, and following the rituals make one a Muslim.

Rituals are pathways to reach the final goal, that is, to create a peaceful abode where we live and where each one of God’s creations lives securely and with dignity. The Prophet had expressed that vision in so many ways, including the wish that a single woman could go from Medina to Damascus and come back safely without harassment or assault. That is the ultimate of a civilized society. A contributor to such ideals is a Muslim.

A Muslim is a conflict mitigator and a goodwill nurturer continually working on restoring harmony among the living and the environment.

What Should Be Our Goal?

Quran offers guidance to set our goal, and that is to enable humans to dwell in an abode of peace—a conflict-free, hassle-free life.

Theirs shall be an abode of peace with their Sustainer; and He shall be near unto them in the result of what they have been doing. (Quran 6:127)

And [know that] God invites [man] unto the abode of peace, and guides him that wills [to be guided] onto a straight way. (Quran 10:25)

God is not talking about peaceful abode in a vacuum or some imaginary place. He is talking about the real life we have that we feel, see, hear, think, touch, witness, and live. The straight path is living in harmony with ourselves and with fellow humans. That is the straight path that leads to peaceful abode.

We have to live freely without fear in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. We should not conflict with any of our fellow Americans; if we are, then we are not following the guidance of the Quran. The Quran says God chose to create us in different races, sizes, shapes, tribes, and by extension, religions. Respecting and accepting each one of God’s creation are the highest forms of praise to Allah, the creator and the causer of the universe.

Are Muslims a Part of the American Story?

We are not connected enough with the mainstream society for a vast majority of Americans to stand up for us, empathize with us, or even understand the truth about us that we are no different from them in our endeavors and aspirations of life. We must, however, express our gratitude to the millions of Americans who have stood up for us, compelled by their sense of justness and fair play.

Prof. Sherman Jackson observes, “Thus far, however, Muslims remain outside the American story, which is why, despite their positive contributions to society, they seldom enlist empathy when they are jailed, deported, or discriminated against.” And he offers the solution, “Hopefully, however, it will not be long before Muslims come to understand this. Once they do, while guilt by association may continue, Muslims will be able to fight back. For in this they will be joined by others.”

The Guardian reports in the article “How Anti-Muslim Are Americans?” that hostility toward Muslims in America exists alongside a lack of familiarity with Muslims. The YouGov poll that looked at hostile attitudes also asked respondents, “Do you personally happen to work with anyone who is Muslim?” and 74 percent said no. The survey also asked whether respondents “happen to have any friends who are Muslim,” and 68 percent said no. Another 87 percent said they had never been inside a mosque. Across all religions, there is a correlation between the percentage of respondents who say they know members of a faith and the rate who say they have favorable attitudes toward members of that faith.

Muslim Americans are well aware of negative attitudes toward them. The last time Pew conducted a survey that sought out only Muslim respondents in 2011, they found that negative experiences were commonplace. In the past year, 28 percent said that people had acted suspiciously; of them, 22 percent said they had been called offensive names; and 21 percent said they had been singled out by airport security.

Where Did We Go Wrong?

The average Mohammed and Amina have realized that to be a spiritual part of the society, we have to connect, we have to care and be cared for, and we have to be with the organization emotionally as they would be with us. To feel a complete sense of feeling “at home,” we have to live the essence of American life that is not different from the essence of Islamic life. Please don’t jump to conclusions. It does not mean you have to give up an ounce of your identity; it simply means the sense of difference of “they” versus “us” has to vanish from our thoughts and “us” to be ingrained in our feelings, language, and actions. We are Americans.

The traditional religious leadership and the leadership that runs Muslim organizations are yet to grasp this; in the name of identity, they dig in their heels. That has been the hallmark of all insecure religious leaders to keep the flock tethered.

To be religious is to bring about a balance within oneself and with others who surround us. Through humility, religion seeks to dissolve the barriers among peoples. We need to embrace other flocks; we need to look for permanent solutions of coexistence and honor everyone’s God-given space and uniqueness.

As Muslims, we chase our tails; we spend all our disposable hours at the mosques or engage in big talk about love for Islam and attend lectures on how to be a ritual Muslim. Unquestionably, it is a part of what makes one a Muslim, but that is not all that Muslims should be concerned. Our focus ought to be is to become a part of that American story.

Please remember no one is pushing us out or excluding us; it is us who are not integrating to become a part of the whole, and it is our loss as many of us do not feel that we are a part to this land; that engenders undesirable insecurity.

Justice Alone Cannot Carry Us Far

Several organizations are making the efforts to make that change “to become a part of the American Story,” but it is not their priority to grow the feeling of being home, something that solidly bolts us to the ground. Our priorities must take us from a ritual Muslim to a strong civic Muslim and be a part of the American story.

Each one of the 323 million of us must feel connected with one another and talk and act as one nation. Those of us who have not grown up yet, being American is our identity as much as being a Muslim. Our ability to build relationships with people other than our kind does not negate or reduce our religiosity but enhances it.

How Do We Change This?

As good citizenship is not only our duty, we must be self-critical of our society—the Muslim as well as the American. I hope that the conservatives among us will get beyond the self-righteous criticism and value the freedom that we are endowed with to exercise with pride and care.

Refreshing our identity, we must learn to reexamine our attitudes toward others and push the refresh button to understand the essence of Islam. We must do our inner jihad against the temptations to reduce Islam to rituals; we should be identified as Muslims not only by the ritual aspect of our religion but also by the spiritual and social point of “being a Muslim.”

Being a Muslim is volunteering one’s time and effort for the general well-being of the society and serving it with blinders. Prophet Muhammad said, “Your responsibility is to yourselves, to your family members, to your relatives, to your neighbors around you and beyond.” He did not advocate exclusion. A neighbor is a neighbor is a neighbor.

A Muslim is someone who is engaged in mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill among our neighbors and countrymen to help create a just and more viable society for all.

Indeed, Prophet Muhammad set that example earlier in his life when he was called on to resolve a dispute among the tribes about who should have the honor of placing the fallen stone in the walls of the cube called Kaaba; they came to him because he had earned the reputation for being just and truthful. He could have chosen anyone to do the honor to gain favors, he could have given it to his tribe and make himself look good, but he did not.

He believed in peaceful coexistence and wanted to mitigate conflicts among the tribes and nurture goodwill; he tried to bring about a change. Indeed, he placed the small stone on a sheet of cloth and had all the leaders raise the piece of fabric up in unison.

Imagine the men lifting the sheet and looking at one another. They were adversaries a day ago, and now they are participants. What must have gone through their minds? They probably saw the erosion of conflicts and the emergence of goodwill. It is a model for Muslims to follow; to be just, fair, and truthful; and to be goodwill nurturers. He was called the amin—the honest and just.

Muslims respect the otherness of others and understand the essence of Islam—justice and peace. Rituals are not an end in themselves; they are merely markers of being a Muslim. They are the most critical aspects of our faith, paving the way to achieve humility and spirituality. Just people are ones who care for what surrounds them—life and the environment. Isn’t that what the will of God is? Doesn’t submitting to the will of God mean working for a just society and bringing equilibrium between living beings and the environment?

To me, one has to shed arrogance. Indeed, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said to his associates after returning home from a victorious war, “The biggest jihad begins now. It is the war with one’s seductions. It is to reign in our temptations to avenge, [to] revenge, or to get even. It is getting hold of our anger, the anger that leads to injustice.” He said, “Don’t let your bias toward the other compromise your sense of justice.”

A majority of Muslims certainly practice this refreshed identity, but a few loudmouths define Muslims otherwise, and sadly, they get the most coverage in the media, drowning the good and encouraging the ugly.

But vigorous effort to project our real identity has begun, and inshallah, we will succeed with a realization that what is right for Muslims has got to be good for the humanity and vice versa for it to sustain. We cannot have advantages over the others; such benefits are deleterious and temporary.

Setting Our Priorities

Engaging with the society at large must be our priority now. We should quit making excuses that we do not have the time; we must carve out our time from the social activities. We have to invest our time in the long-term goodness and to acquire a sense of being at home; we must take our time from some of the religious activities and lectures that make us stronger ritual Muslims and invest that time for sustainable goodness to become an overall Muslim.

The Ismaili Muslims are consciously building bridges and creating a society of integration and oneness. As a Muslim, I take pride in their work and urge them to work with all Muslims; their plans are worth emulating. What is good for Muslims has got to be good for America and vice versa for that good to be sustainable.

When we move away from “me and my interests” to “us and our interests,” we can see a sea change goodness for all the Muslim communities and other communities. Together, the Ahmadiyya, Alawi, Bohra, Ismaili, Nation of Islam, Shia, Sufi, Sunni, Twelvers, Warith Deen Muhammad, and other denominations contribute to the well-being of America. Our pettiness denies others and reduces our wholesome share of good. We need to take cumulative credit for serving fellow Americans.

America is our home. We are going to spend our lives here. It is home to our kids and grandkids and their grandkids, and we are going to be buried here. Each cemetery plot is our permanent residence till eternity. And we owe it to ourselves to make this land safe, secure, peaceful, and prosperous for one and all. No one can have peace for themselves unless others are in harmony. It is the responsibility of each one of the 323 million of us to do our share.

Muslim Leadership

We have been here for a long time but have not learned what democracy means, and we still want to dictate others and have got to change.

One head of a Muslim organization told me, “As long as I am the president, you will not do a program on sharia, let alone talk about it.” No discussion was allowed, shutting the other board members from even talking about it.

Two Muslim leaders cornered me at Cafe Brazil in Richardson, Texas, and “told” me that the next time I do a program on sharia, they are to be consulted or, in effect, get their permission. They were indeed invited but chose to ignore the invitation. The positive outcome of that sharia event was that Jeff Weiss (may his soul rest in peace) of the Dallas Morning News attended and reported it in the Dallas Morning News. Over the next five years, he understood and defended Islam in parts of his columns because he knew the difference between a personal and a public sharia.

Sean Hannity’s attacks on sharia were mitigated to the public sharia, and he spared the personal sharia. I heard Newt Gingrich is on that bandwagon, and I will try to have a conversation with him. Maybe he will change.

We were developing a program to train Muslim speakers. One of the organizations that specialize in speaker training did not want to share their material, and the reason was the most ridiculous one I have ever heard. They said the speaker coaching was not for Ismaili Muslims. I tried to scream, “What difference does it make?” Finally, we developed our own speakers’ program, and that is the twelve Islamic values—the values that contribute to creating a better world (see chapter “Islamic Values”). We will be happy to coach those values, the common-sense values, directly from the Quran to all Americans so that we can learn about one another. We also have workshops on learning about other religions. Let’s prepare our nation to learn to respect and accept other faiths as equally valid faiths.

Another Muslim leader had asked me to “uninvite” a Hindu speaker from a public event. I did not like it, and I will never do that. But I carried on, and that built animus toward me.

What a shame. A few Muslim leaders are a hurdle to integration.

I have opened many interfaith and civic meetings with pluralism greetings to include greetings from major faith traditions and conclude with a short “inclusive prayer.” One of the lines was “As Americans, collectively, we believe in one god, no god, and many gods—the dear cause of the universe—guide us to learn to accept one another as fellow humans.” A lot of gossips went around, condemning the inclusion and proclaiming that, as a Muslim, I should not do it. I wish they had learned Islam from the Quran and not the schools where they dish out the same o’ same o’ stuff. There are a lot of flaws we keep passing on from the old misguided teachings.

One of the most embarrassing things for me as an American Muslim was the difficulty I faced in Mulberry, Florida. I was there to organize a peaceful interfaith meeting to find a solution to Pastor Terry Jones’s Quran-burning event. I knocked on several mosque doors between St. Petersburg and Orlando to see a Muslim woman to sing our national anthem. The interest was dim, and they looked at me as if I were doing something wrong. Two men said it was not a Muslim thing to sing the national anthem. I should have kicked their butts, but I was focused on the event and let that go.

God willing, we will have a national-anthem singing competition among Muslim kids for the Fourth of July event in 2019. It is time we do that. The Adam’s Center Mosque in Washington has kids who sing, and another group in Gaithersburg sings the national anthem. In Dallas, Texas, we had trained many Muslim women from Sunni, Shia, Ismaili, Bohra, and African American traditions. They were hijab-wearing to skirt-wearing Muslim women for our Unity Day USA events for over fifteen years. Washington DC is my hometown now. If Muslims can understand their priorities and fund, we will make that happen here.

Muslims have a problem in publicly denouncing a few unfortunate aspects of sharia, including apostasy and blasphemy. Sharia laws need serious amendments, just as our constitution has twenty-seven of them. I’ll discuss this in more detail in the section “Fixing Sharia Laws.”

Sean Hannity understands the difference between public sharia and personal sharia, so his challenges were precise. We owe it to fellow Americans to allay their fears, and some of these guys don’t get it.

We need Muslim leaders who have the guts to face things squarely.

Most of the Muslim leaders are conformists. They cannot cope with dissent and disagreement. They have the arrogance that people should listen to them because they write the checks. There are a few individuals whom I know who have donated monies and never asked even their name to be listed or wanted special treatment and seating in the event. I wish we had more donors such as Farooq Wazir Ali, Dr. Nauman Anwar, Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Dr. Amanullah Khan, Amir Rupani, Dr. Muqtada Koreshi, and you who would never ask for a pound of flesh.

Leadership has the vision to foresee the problems and bring reluctant people together for the common good. We have to learn to factor in opposing views, though they are agonizing, adding to long-term stability. It takes guts, and we hope to train enough Muslim leaders to take those steps.

We can learn from our senators and congressional leaders not to make the mistakes they make. President Obama is my favorite president, but he made a big mistake when the senate passed the Obama Care bill. He was content with the democratic vote and did not seek republican ballot. Because of that, the law has been stripped several times since then. Despite it all, it has survived. Had Obama gotten republican vote, even though it was not necessary, the act would not have been attacked. Now Trump is making the same mistakes. The bills are being passed with one vote. That is not good for our country. We should have broader consensus, like 67 percent support for any proposal to give and sustain it.

Thanks to our imams. They are a blessing and play a key role in reshaping Muslim relationships with fellow Americans. In the past, we have asked the imams to pray for the release of Yazidi women, persecuted Christians, or harassed Shia or call on them to urge Muslims to honor our veterans on Veterans Day—they have done it all. Fellow Americans need to know this, and we are going to do a lot more now.

Their hands are usually tied up by the management. They need to have the freedom. I believe American Muslims have to take firm steps to get rid of the last few lousy apple imams or provide them training about the First Amendment and pluralism and civil societies. We don’t need to screw up our lives in this blessed land.

Among the imams, Muslim scholars, and us, we will test one another in stretching beyond our sketchy religious boundaries created during the Middle Ages but will unequivocally stick together and remain within the pluralistic traditions of Islam.

We need to reach out and talk with those who are polarized, and those who are not friendly. We have had great success with people who were written off by fellow Muslims as right-wingers. We will continue to work with them and endure the humility if necessary for achieving a greater good for them, for us, and for all of us Americans.

It is time for Muslims to take the steps necessary to allay the fears of fellow Americans and undo the tensions, remove the suspicions, and restore trust among Americans. This is what a Muslim ought to be—a conflict mitigator and a goodwill nurturer.

We must make sure we elect the right leadership in our Islamic centers—someone who is an amin, someone who has worked with people of different faiths and political views, and someone who has volunteered in civic and nonprofit organizations for at least five years to be on the board of Islamic centers.

Muslim Woman President of the United States of America

As a community, American Muslims have not developed any concrete plans to extricate themselves out of the chaotic situations, hostility, and incessant Islamophobic rhetoric they face. Each time a terrorist acts out, they start praying and wishing that the terrorist was not a Muslim. Then condemnations follow that the terrorists are on the fringe. They are not one of them, or they are extremists. Then they will start combating the conservative media, defending the faith.

We are American Muslims, and we can do better than that.

This book paves the way to own up the mistakes we have made and fix them and become fully integrated Americans. There is only one America, and all of us are a fully integrated part of that nation. We need to learn to engage with those who are opposed to us, and I have success stories reasonably to share on that front.

Why a Muslim Woman? Why should we set the goal to elect a Muslim woman as the president of the United States of America in 2036?

The answer is simple—we have a history of that. When Muhammad (PBUH) walked home all excited but shaking and confused with the revelations he had just received, he did not know what to do next. His wife Khadija did not discount or question him; she believed and comforted him instead.

There is a woman behind the success of every man. Indeed, the historians have written that Khadija was “the rock upon which Muhammad built his faith.”

Bibi Khadija became a catalyst in his mission of creating responsible, accountable, and just societies, which is an expression of the oneness of creation or, merely put, tawhid.

She was with him all the way until he realized his mission. She saw to it that he succeeded in his goals. Khadija was the kind of woman that every man or an organization needs to bring success to them.

Khadija was ahead of her time and led the women’s liberation movement. She did what no one had done before in any society—she “proposed” to marry the man fifteen years younger than herself. The Prophet accepted, and subsequently, they were married.

Thus, began the journey of freedom for women. The Prophet restored women’s inalienable God-given right to be free and independent. He declared that a woman was responsible for her deeds on the Day of Judgment as was the man. No one bears other’s burden, and each one of us is a full and a dignified human. He made statements that most of the men hated initially until they understood it fully. He said a woman is free to own her property, propose to marry, and divorce with her own volition. This was revolutionary not only fourteen hundred years ago but also one hundred years even here in the United States when a woman was considered a man’s property.

We have several independent women among Muslims; if one of them runs for the president and wins it, she will be a role model for all, including Muslim men.

We must also work on getting a Hindu, Native American, Sikh, LGBTQ, atheists, and other leaders from different communities not represented in the past. We have to perfect our union to be represented by all Americans. We cannot have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace.

The first generation of immigrants are still not a part of the society. Our interests are narrower, reflective of our groups. Once we become universal in our approach and put America first, then we will have universal acceptability from most segments of the American society.

Our loyalties should be to America and not to our nations where we were born. I did a radio show in 1998 after the back-to-back nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. The United States placed restrictions on aid to both countries. What I heard on the radio, from the live callers, the Indians and Pakistanis said that they would send the money to their nations anyway. That is wrong! Of course, the Israeli Americans and other Americans do the same. Their loyalty is not to America.

The day we confidently think, talk, and act “America first” but not at the cost of others, such acts are harmful to the sustainable stability of the nation. No will stop us from becoming the president of the United States. This land is full of good people who want nothing but the best for America.

A Muslim will not become the president of the United States unless they represent the interests of every American. The same goes to Hindus, Jews, atheists, LGBTs, Native Americans, Sikhs, Baha’is, or anyone. Before Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson tried but failed, only because his interests were narrow. Obama has given the model to the world: “If you can represent all people, you earn the chance to serve as a leader.”

The President of the United States of America

The following twelve steps, if taken, offers the opportunity to be the president of the United States of America in 2036:

⦁ Readying Our Children Now
⦁ Respecting the Otherness of Others
⦁ Being the American Amin
⦁ Volunteering
⦁ Standing for Others
⦁ Being a Part of the Society or Story
⦁ Social Mixing
⦁ Removing Apprehensions
⦁ Involving in Interfaith and Intrafaith
⦁ Involving Grassroots
⦁ Being a Cultural American: Include Gratitude in It
⦁ Running for Office

Readying Our Children Now

In 2036, there will not be a school, playground, day care, workplace, hospital, factory, government office, city, state, state in America where you will not find people of different faiths, races, ethnicities studying, working, and even marrying together.

Are our kids ready to work in such places where these many different people work? Have we poisoned our kids with ill will for the others? What a shame if the evangelical kids are raised with ill will toward Jews, Mormons, Unitarians, Catholics, and others. What if you nurture an American Hindu kid hating Muslims or vice versa? Virtually, as a parent, you have screwed their life. You will be gone, but they have several decades to live on, and they will live and work in apprehension and discomfort. And when they come home from work, they have things to gripe about others. They will not give 100 percent of their heart and mind to their families or the profession.

Let your kids learn to live with others. Take them to every place of worship. Do not poison them. Make them familiar with different races, faiths, and cultures. Make it easy for them. And when they grow up, they will be happy to work with various people without bias. The business and families benefit equally.

Let them be Americans first. This is where they live and die, and this is their identity. They can choose their political orientation as adults. But as an honest, sincere, caring parent, you have to let them know different political parties, not as enemies but as people with a different viewpoint.

If my kids run for a public office, they will have greater acceptance from the community at large as they are not biased toward any American—religious, racial, or political. They have been to almost all places of worship and cultural events, and I hope they turn out to be pluralists. That would be an accomplished mission for me.

At the Center for Pluralism, we have many programs, and if you wish to fund, we can set up a full-blown program as a pilot project to be replicated in other cities.

Respecting the Otherness of Others

America is about respecting the otherness of others, and so is Islam. No individual male or female, rich or poor, heterosexual or homosexual is less than or superior to you. No one is dropped from Mars or some other galaxies to claim superiority. All of us are created from the same precise process from birth to death.

The conflicts with family members, communities, and nations are based on the ignorance of one another’s values. Whatever we know about the other is not firsthand. Our perceptions were packed into us by a few ugly parents, shortsighted friends, bad teachers, preachers, and of course, the media.

There was a lady on Facebook claiming to be a rationalist but continuously attacking the Jews, and she wanted a ban on circumcision. And when I said it was not a cult thing but a tradition of three thousand years, she attacked Muslims that they should not eat meat. I bet her children will have a miserable time in school or workplace where Jews or Muslims work.

Respecting others does not mean compromise; it just means you accept the other person as unique as you are. When you talk with them, your attitude is to consider them equal. Your words and actions should not betray your talks.

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