Sunday, October 30, 2011


I've started posting the chapters of Resolution 786. I'll post each successive chapter roughly every 3 or 4 days. We'll start with the Introduction:


I’ve walked the Stations of the Cross in Jerusalem’s Old City. I was baptized in the Jordan. A Presbyterian minister taught me the Lord’s Prayer on the Mt. of Olives one peaceful April evening, just the two of us sitting above the Kidron Valley in full view of the Temple Mount. I’ve sailed the sloshing eddies of the Ganges at dawn with a Brahmin. I’ve prayed in Sarnath alongside American-born Buddhist converts at the spot where Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment. I’ve knelt in Mecca shoulder to shoulder with Muslim pilgrims from all over the world, immediately before the Kaaba, so close that each time I leaned forward to place my forehead to the earth, my head touched the base of the large black cube. I’ve greeted the Lord at Israel’s Western Wall, praying together with orthodox Jews at the base of the temple wall that Herod built.

God has many faces, and I have had the enormous privilege of celebrating several of them.

But Resolution 786 is not at all about the Creator. It’s about us. It’s a story about our journey from Here to There and about the sometimes tender and the sometimes savage things that happen to us in between, the swirling, rushing currents of love and lust and loss that form into experiences that become the building blocks of our lives. And if the story sometimes seems a confused patchwork of discordant imagery — well, it was written by an American of Indian heritage who was born in Africa, raised a Muslim, turned into a refugee by another Muslim, given safety and sustenance by a Christian church, and who is now happily married to a Jewish woman.

I beg forgiveness if my introduction will in any way prejudice a reader’s individual interpretation of this novel. Interpretation of literature is not at all the province of the writer. It is wholly and solely the province of the reader.
God bless you, dear reader. God bless us all.

Mohamed Mughal
Baltimore, Maryland
September 11, 2007

Monday, October 24, 2011

Our World

We live in a world where it's OK for every global media outlet to run multiple photos of a mutilated corpse, but a photo of a topless woman breastfeeding her child would be censured as obscene.

Presentation, Cedarhurst Unitarian Church, 23 Oct 2011

I gave a presentation at Cedarhurst Unitarian Church last Sunday. This was my fourth presentation at a Unitarian Church this year. Many people have asked me to post the text of the talk. I've provided it below. Remember, these are just my talking points. Each talk becomes a separate and unique exchange of ideas based on the interests and questions of the audience.

I think the that topics that I speak on are important and timely. I thoroughly enjoy the open-minded sharing of perspectives during the talks.

The Basic Beliefs and Practices of Islam and the Notion of the Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys

Good Morning. My name’s Mohamed and I want to thank you for inviting me to join you here today. I’m speaking on two topics this morning. The first is Islam, its basic beliefs and practices from an American Muslim’s perspective. Our second topic is the notion of good guys vs. bad guys, an exploration of who’s good and who’s bad. I’ll discuss these topics for about 20 minutes after which we’ll have an audience-driven Q&A session.

It’s difficult to synopsize any world religion in 10 minutes, but I’m going to try. I’ll start by discussing the five pillars or basic practices of Islam. After that, we’ll read from an English translation of the Quran, the scriptural basis for Islam.

The five pillars are:

1. Profession of Faith: There is no God but Allah and his prophet is Mohammed.
2. Prayer: Practicing the 5 daily prayers.
3. Fasting during Ramadan from sunup to sundown (not just food but any kind of bodily appetite).
4. The paying of alms.
5. Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.

In doing a top-level summary of those pillars, we see that Islam is not that different from most other theological frameworks in that it places emphasis on prayer, fasting, alms and pilgrimage.

Now what about the Quran, a book that some churches in the U.S. believe ought to be burned? We’ve heard so much about this book in the last few years, but does anyone know much of its content? I’ve brought along my family copy of the Quran and I’ve tabbed some passages for reading.

Read passages on: Jesus, Garden of Eden, Moses, Noah, Lot

To recap what we’ve learned so far, we see that Muslims have 5 pillars of faith that range from prayer to fasting to alms to pilgrimage. Their sacred text is the Quran, a book of vignettes, lessons, prescriptions and warnings.
We’ve taken a sampling of readings from this Quran. Let’s use this sampling to begin discussion of our second topic, the notion of good guys vs. bad guys. We’ll start by trying to collectively answer, “Is the God of the Quran a good guy or a bad guy?” Let’s take inventory of what we’ve heard about him.

1. He killed a generation of babies because the Egyptians didn’t grant the Israelites freedom.
2. He massacred two entire cities because of their sexual orientation.
3. He killed every living creature on our planet because he was unhappy with the actions of a few humans.

Killing babies, genocide driven by homophobia, mass annihilation of all life – maybe he is a bad guy?

That’s a possible example of a bad God. Are there examples of a bad people?

- Read Matthew – ask audience, where from?
-Read Luther – ask audience, who wrote?
-Read Amin

We have a bad God, two groups of bad people. Do we know any bad individuals? Here’s a description. (Read from 1984); ask audience, who is this?

(note how closely the content of a work of fiction from 1948 mirrors what we’re experiencing today).

So What Do We Make of It All?

Human thinking tends to operate in dichotomies, black and white, yin and yang, good and bad so I think we trap ourselves into finding a bad guy because we need to fulfill this dichotomy.

In all this discussion of bad guys, there’s a side of the coin that’s missing. We didn’t discuss the good guys; who are the good guys? I’ve looked through scripture and literature and listened to theologians and commentators from many parts of the world. My conclusion is this: when you ask the question, “Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?” the good guys are always the people you ask. If Adolf Hitler was sitting here with us this morning and we asked him who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, I can virtually guarantee that he wouldn’t designate himself the bad guy. The point: Invariably, the good guys is us, the bad guys is the others.


I want to read something from one of my favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut, something that’ll move us towards a concluding thought about our discussion.

(Read the short piece by Kurt Vonnegut where he discusses a conversation he’d had with his father before his father passed away)

Vonnegut said that he didn’t believe in villains. In a universe void of absolutes, I tend to agree. Is this moral relativism, a philosophy that can leave people believing that there are no good guys and no bad guys, a type of intellectual cop-out? No, I don’t think it is. I think this perspective espouses the tenants of a philosopher who himself was branded and punished as a bad guy. That poor fellow also asked us to not brand bad guys when he told us “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

We’ve covered a lot of material here in a very short amount of time. If anyone asks me, “Mohamed, out of all you shared with everyone this morning, what’s the one thing you’d want them to remember most?” It’d have to be that one sentence: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Putting out First Novel in Installments

I've decided to post my first novel, Resolution 786, to this blog in chapter installments beginning next week. I'll post additional chapters roughly every three days.

Now, to get moving on that elusive sophomore novel, Christmas in Mecca!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A "Cube" of Writing from "Christmas in Mecca"


A Report on Life-forms on the Third Stone Orbiting Sol: The Closed Case of Rover


....Our team from Igramafore examined a representative sample of the carbon-based life-forms who live within the oxygen-rich, toxic atmosphere of the third stone orbiting Sol. Sol is a medium-sized star that continually cascades through the ten dimensions within an outer arm of a medium-sized spiral galaxy which resides in a cluster of galaxies draped behind the Great Fold of Space.

The Sample Subject

The sample subject responded when called by the sonic construction: Rover. The subject moves about on four pods within a gravitational field that exerts 42 omboms per hua per hua. It ingests the following: its fellow life-forms; oxygen; and two hydrogen atoms bonded with one atom of oxygen. It excretes reduced combinations of these items in solid, liquid and gaseous forms. The subject displays the characteristics of one half of a male/female coupling. However, examination reveals that the reproductive organs have been removed. Subject’s bloodstream carries substances foreign to its own physiology, suggesting medical interventions such as surgery and/or inoculation. The subject’s psychology is rather simple: most behaviors have the objective of obtaining items for ingestion. However, subject also expends appreciable effort in obtaining social and interpersonal interactions for the sake of interaction, suggesting emotional and/or communal needs. Mind-scan reveals a matrix of chemically preserved memories confined to experiences within only three physical dimensions. The totality of memories suggests a deep loyalty to the recurring personas within the subject’s life experience. Life experiences are strung together and artificially sequenced within omnipresent time in a fashion that would give the beholder a sense of linear time, a contortion of the Cosmos where one series of experience no longer exists and another series of experience has yet to exist, perhaps giving rise to fallacious constructs such as a past and a future in lieu of the actuality of omnipresent existence.


The life-forms on the third stone orbiting Sol are wholly engrossed in fulfilling their physical and communal needs. They have rudimentary skills in medical science which they use towards sterilization and inoculation. They are uncomplicated, loyal creatures who experience only three of ten dimensions, a severely truncated experience base nested within a contorted sense of past and future. Our team from Igramafore concludes that these life-forms are incapable, both intellectually and emotionally, of determining a true sense of space-time; understanding the basic nature of matter, light and physical experience; creating meaningful or uniquely expressive art; or waging organized warfare.

Our Message to the Supreme Council of Beings
There is nothing of deep interest or of imminent danger in Quadrant X69. We recommend no further research in this quadrant.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Death of a Character

4:17 a.m., the 10th of October. In a mix of moonlight, slumber, dusk and sleeping dogs, I came to a groggy conclusion: Allah Om Ilahi Elohim, the original (and fictional) author of Genesis, compelling as he is as a major character, does not fit into the tapestry of storyline in my second novel, Christmas in Mecca. Elohim is a diversion from what is evolving into the novel's central anchor, the plight (emotional, sexual and professional) of Dr. Harold Hawkins.