Guest: Mark Siljander - U.S.Congressman, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Author of best-selling and award-wining book, A Deadly Misunderstanding; A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim Christian Divide
Host: Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid -- President of Sound Vision and Justice for All.
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Abdul Malik Mujahid 00:03
Salaam and peace. This is Imam Malik Mujahid. And you're watching Muslim network TV Muslim network TV airs on satellite galaxy 19 covers North America, north to south, east to west Canada, USA and Mexico. And we also stream on OTT devices like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV. And you can download our app Muslim network TV, on your iPhone or Android phones. And our website is Muslimnetwork.tv. And we are ready we are, you know, always there, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. And this is a program which is designed to bridge build bridges of understanding and create harmony among neighbors. And today's shows is specifically about that, you know, misunderstandings can be deadly, they can encourage people to wrong other people. And I will give you an example, when I was a young person in Pakistan in a small village boarding school, There came a person a Pakistani, claiming that he was a Christian, but he left Christianity. And I'm going around to warn people about Christianity. And he told us and we were kids, we were just scared to death that you know, for Pakistan, British colonial powers, occupied that land for you know, two 300 years so, so the the occupation was a real as childhood would read about that. And he says they're about to reoccupy, and they are so bold in Pakistan. They even have an army and they're not fearful. They dress like army and they have ranks like a major and captain and things like that. He even gave us the name of that army. Only once I was in Chicago, 40 years ago, outside a during the Christmas time, I saw that army commander is standing with the bell in his hand, asking for money, he was referring to salvation army. You see how an innocent thing can be blown up by person now I hear a lot of former Muslims going around in America, churches after churches creating misunderstanding of the similar magnitude. And so that's why dialogue and conversation understanding each other sitting down with each other is important. Europeans, you know, colonized and enslaved almost all Muslim countries for a couple of centuries, if not longer, millions of people died defending their land against invaders, especially different invaders. So French freedom movement in the Muslim countries is started about hundred years ago, 60-70 years ago, countries started becoming free but they were dictators and things like that, solve the time actually Stooges have the same colonial powers. So Muslims started seeing in the Muslim world, white man as a Christian man, whether they are Christian or not, and considering them to be an oppressor an occupier and colonial powers. And when the these countries with dictators and kings and these people will use bombs and tear gas to oppress people, denying them freedom, liberty, right to vote, select the choose their own life, they blame west
Abdul Malik Mujahid 04:05
and that's where the element of freedom movement in the Muslim countries like Arab spring, but are not only calling for democracy and freedom and Islam and all of that, but also had element of being anti racist while asking for democracy. So this is very interesting conversation what goes on in the Muslim world. And in America, it has a different take Arab spring became successful in Tunisia. Democracy is thriving, multiple elections have happened a little bit in Morocco. But you know, Egypt, you know it was suppressed, it became successful. And then military took over and started killing people. And in Syria and Libya, Libya was bombed by a whole lot of Western forces, and it is in chaos, just because of the Arab Spring. So instead of Winning freedom, people who are oppressed to the level in peaceful movement in Syria asking for democracy elections, some of them asking to live the way they choose islamically Oh, boy, we know what happened to, you know, the largest number of refugees were created out of Arab spring. Arba spring was about freedom, liberty, justice. And many times when Muslim talk about justice and freedom, they also think of Islam because these are their ideals. But when they talk about Islam, somebody freaked out in America. Oh, no, no, no, these people are dangerous people and all that. So a whole lot of confusion. In the midst of that there are some good people. And these good people want people to know better, they want their neighbors to know better, there are Christian who want Christians to know better, there are Muslim who want Muslims to know better and in a state of conflict, developed the relationship between them. And these movement is growing. So today I googled the news. What are the news, the first thing which popped up in Christianity Today, which is a Christian evangelical, Magzine, I used to subscribe it at one time, I don't know why it stopped that. It says evangelical and Muslims, not brothers, but best friends. So I still have to read that article. But the next one was Christian leaders International Day of prayers for former Muslim believers, quote, unquote, you are not alone. I mean, they have right to pray for who they would. They would pray. But when Muslim reads that, and they have history of knowing Christian missionaries, they have a different opinion of that. Next headline was Christian trying to convert Muslims and Jews to Christianity that just came out the 16 hours ago. And then another positive one Muslim Christian communities share more similarities than most realize and this is this is printed in times West Virginia. So in the midst of this confusion, there are good people who are trying to have a dialogue and sometimes these peacemakers have to pay a price. And one such beautiful human being who have done his best is with us, and it is former congressman Mark Siljander.
Mark Siljander 07:33
Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 07:37
Well, welcome. Welcome. Did I pronounce Siljander correctly?
Mark Siljander 07:42
Abdul Malik Mujahid 07:44
Okay. I like and your pronunciation of Salaam is perfect. Thank you.
Mark Siljander 07:50
Thank you "Shukriya"
Abdul Malik Mujahid 07:51
So Mark Siljander is former republican US Congress person serving for three terms in the state of Michigan. He also served as US ambassador to the United Nations and author of best selling and award winning book, A Deadly Misunderstanding, a congressman cursed to bridge the Muslim Christian divide. Well, major Michigan major major, what did I say Michigan? I mean, major mission there. How did you choose the topic you chose?
Mark Siljander 08:29
Well, when I was in Congress, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador read from the Quran at the prayer breakfast. This is many years ago in my I was probably 29 years old. And a very young congressman and you, you Imam have attended the National Prayer Breakfast. I know. So I was very upset. Because I didn't like the Quran. I was told it was a bad book. And I didn't care much for Muslims. And so I wrote a letter to the head of the Prayer breakfast, who visited me my office in Congress. And he's course Christian background. And he said, Now you don't like the quran he said, No, I don't. He said, Well, tell me about your reading of it. I say, Well, I haven't read it. Then he says how do you know it's such a terrible book if you haven't even read the Quran? So I felt embarrassed. And he said, Well, what's your plan for Muslims? And the plan is the same as you read Imam, you know, to convert them to Christianity. And so he started pressing me like, well, was Jesus a Christian? I thought I'm on it. And I said, I guess not. Did Jesus really start a religion called Christianity? I had thought, Well, I think he did. It's in the Bible somewhere. So we'll give me one verse.
Mark Siljander 09:50
I couldn't think of a verse because there are no verses. So make a long story short. To prove him wrong. I bought a Quran translation. began reading it. And my wife was in the kitchen and I was sitting, reading it all with my pen, ready to underline all of the, you know, terrible things in the Quran because that's what I was indoctrinated for years. This is the problem. It's a deadly misunderstanding. That's why I titled The book that because I'm reading and I said, No, wait a minute, it talks about Adam and Eve, and Moses, and it talks about the prophets. And from the Old Testament, it talks about Jesus repeatedly. And I shall call my wife I said, Nancy, it called Jesus just the Messiah several times, of course, I was just I wasn't counting too much starting just starting to read the Quran. So I that was probably 20 years ago. So I began studying the Quran was some I would consider a top Muslim scholars. Shia Sunni, Sufi, very, very diverse scholars. The book was ultimately endorsed by Ayatollah from Iran who is peaceful and doctors Suliman, who was teaches Islamic Studies at was in Edinburgh, now at Cambridge and many other people, Christians, Muslims alike. And what changed my heart was when I started reading the Quran, I said I'd better reread the Bible again too. And I noticed that Jesus never mentioned the word religion in the sense of an institution or a club. Now words a club you join. And as I started reading the Quran, I saw that it mentioned religion several times the word in Arabic Deen. And then the scholars told me of Islamic scholars, that really the word Deen actually means the state of your submission to God to Allah. It's not a club. So I thought, Wait a minute. If the Quran mentioned religion, not as a club, but as the state of one's faith in submission. And Jesus never mentioned word religion. Nobody mentioned Christian or Christianity, I'm not against it. He'd never mentioned the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts of the United Nations. So I'm not I serve there. But the point is, we attribute biblical or Quranic authenticity, often, to things that aren't even there. Or they in my view, they're dramatically misinterpreted or understood. So in reading the Quran, I was transformed in the sense that well the Quran is just to me not done I don't mean this with greatest respect, kind of rehash of the Old and New Testaments. And and but my friends Christian fence, yes, Mark, but they made Jesus's in the Quran. There's always the word but but they don't believe this. They believe he's not the Son of God, they don't believe in the Trinity don't believe he was crucified for all these different theological issues. And I'm okay. And in concluding my quick summary of 20 years, I began researching the language of Jesus, he spoke Aramaic. And Aramaic is very similar to Arabic, and Hebrew. They're their cousins to three Semitic language Hebrew of the Old Testament Aramaic of the new and Arabic of the Quran. And to my astonishment Imam, no scholars have ever looked at the Semitic language connectivity to see if we can overcome some of these perceived differences that I mentioned earlier. theological and other just so called differences. So I embarked as a student a Talib because I'm not a scholar. I don't have degrees in Islamic Studies, or linguistics or semetic linguistics. So I embarked on a study to compare keywords. For example, what did Jesus call God? My Christian friends say, Well, Allah is a fake God. I said, is it? Why do you think that? Well, there was a moon, God name Allah and they adopted it? I said, Oh, so what should we call God that well, we should call him God. I said, you know where the English word comes from, and 99.9% of Christians don't know I said it come. It comes from "Gott " a proto Germanic word for a spirit, a demon or a spirit of spring water. So the English word God has pagan roots, if that's your concern, well, then they said we should use a Hebrew or elohiym or Aloha, various forms. I said to come That comes from the Canaanite pagan god "L" that Hebrews adopted. They go, oh my gosh, this is so if you're going to attribute so called pagan origins, there's not a single word we can use in English, Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, or any other language. So getting back to what Jesus called God, that's what they left us with Jesus.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 15:24
Let's take a short break. Mark, thank you so much, and we will continue this conversation. This is Imam Malik Mujahid and I'm talking with former congressman Mark Siljander and we'll be right back after these messages.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 15:44
Welcome back to Muslim network TV and this is Imam Malik Mujahid talking with former congressperson Marks Siljander. So so when you just go to what was your research about the name Jesus took you to?
Mark Siljander 16:53
Well, by the research, because I have I become a kind of a thorn in some and some evangelical circles, because they think I'm an apologist for the Quran and Islam, that say I'm simply pointing out linguistic similarities that theological, linguistic, even Jesus called God, Allah and Aramaic, you can hear the similar Allah, Allah and that shocks Christians. So Jesus also use the word "muleem" my form of it in, in the sense of turning, turning your heart toward God. So even in Aramaic, the word Muslim, in a sense is referred to as in the similar definition of one who has turned or submitted to God. So I will study Jesus in the Quran, and have done extensive research, and what shocks people, both Muslims and Christians, when they see very clearly how Jesus is, in fact, presented in the Quran, and all the others, so many the other prophets and I, frankly conclusion of this thought, I don't see much difference between the Quran and the Bible, in an Old and New Testament, honestly.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 18:15
if there is so much common, if, if Christians in the West, no little more Aramaic, it is going to be helpful in understanding or the differences are not as much theological as political.
Mark Siljander 18:33
I think they're a little bit of both. And politics has, in my view over centuries on both Christian and Muslims, politics control, division has, in a sense, put barriers up. And so my goal in life has been to try to build a bridge over these barriers. And I was I we can give you an if you have any interest, we can give specific examples that that would help
Abdul Malik Mujahid 19:04
Mark Siljander 19:05
Okay, I was in, in a interfaith conference in sponsored by the King Abdullah when he was alive in Saudi Arabia, and the head of the world Muslim League was the master of ceremonies. And after two and a half days of all the different religions speaking and talking, he and I had a private audience. And I said, Your Excellency, after two and a half days of all these wonderful speeches, when you look at me, do you think I'm a kafir you know, an infidel? And he smiled. And he said, Yes. I said, Well, thank you for your candor. So why why do you think that if, since we're talking very openly, he said, Well, you think Jesus is the Son of God? And he mentioned a couple of the other, you know, the Trinity and a few other things that said, Well, what if in 12 minutes or less, we could bridge those questions are those so called two differences to to mitigate them to cutting splitting hairs, almost very little to no difference. And a lot of it's a linguistic issue and it goes what he goes that could change the world as to Well, that would be a good thing if we could change it for the better and bring better understanding. He said, Well, tell me about Son of God, how would you deal with that? I said, Well, the the Aramaic makes it very clear that everyone but Jesus was be gotten differently. And he said, What's the Aramaic word as to just "yellit" with any so that's the same in Arabic or symbolize that I realized that. But when it comes to Jesus, he used the Bible uses the Aramaic, a feminine construct, with a passive form versus a male form of the word no words, sexually, begotten, and as suggested Jesus was be gotten differently, with no man, because the Bible and the Quran both suggested Allah or Allah blew his breath into Mary, who was a virgin. And Jesus was conceived supernaturally, he looked at me, are you saying that this whole Son of God is based on a misunderstanding of one word begotten, and that is my amendment argument for years, and presented all over the world from Edinburgh University and Oxford to to Christian and Muslim colleges all over the world, it's really down to a misunderstanding of a single word word.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 21:36
so around the world is a different thing. But what about around the USA? Has any any Christian leader have understood what you're saying?
Mark Siljander 21:47
Ah, that's a very good, insightful question. In the beginning, no, they did not. But when I have an opportunity to show them and express it to them, I can't mention the name of the person, but you would recognize it immediately. Most people in the world would, he said my book was heretical, and he had read it 15, like 10 years ago or something. And I met with this gentleman. And and I said, What is your problem? And I explicitly expressed to him the Aramaic, to reminding him even though he read the book, and within I would say, 30-40 minutes we were in agreement. He said, Why don't we know this more Christians? and Muslims need to know that some of these so called differences can be bridged? not perfectly? And frankly, Imam you know, there are so many sections and nations of Christianity, Christians argue among themselves about, you know, the specifics. What is the Trinity mean? What is son of God even mean? Because Jesus said, peacemakers are sons of God. But he did he mean, what do you mean by that? And he said that the sons, sons of God in the Genesis, look down. In the end, they're called angelic beings. So sons of God can be angelic beings King score called kings in and the Roman emperors were called sons of God. So the word Son of God has a huge diversity, meaning the point is, was Jesus supernaturally conceived by the breath, the spirit " ruh" of a law? The answer is, yes, Christian Muslims agree. So that's mainly the 90% of the issue, and he is begotten differently. But the English Bibles look like he was begotten the same way that Abraham, begot Isaac and Ishmael and all the rest. So this is simple. It's really not as complex as we need to make we we tend to make it.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 23:49
So in that sense, if if you're able to talk to people one on one, even even significant leaders, then what stops them from trying to bridge? Is it the politics of things?
Mark Siljander 24:05
Well, some are bridging. You had Bob Roberts on one of your shows who's a close friend of mine. And there are more and more men and women, such as Bob Roberts, that are bridging the divide, a deadly misunderstanding has impacted I don't countless 10s of thousands of people here and abroad. We sold 10,000 copies just in North Africa. And so our goal is to influence people to think differently about their own faith, and about especially Muslims, that Muslims are like Christians are good and bad people everywhere. And the Quran in my view, says essentially, what the Bible says the author differences of course, there are differences, but but they're they're insufficient. differences when you get down to it.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 25:03
Let's talk i mean the holiday season is coming close. Let's talk about how do you since you have studied both and you have taken a travel of, you know, mastering Aramaic language, I don't know how many people mastered that. So what's the difference about Mary peace be upon her, as she's mentioned in Bible and in the Quran, I mean, Mary is so big among Muslims, you know, my mother was named after her, oh one of my daughter is named after her. And one of my granddaughter is named after her very is very big in among Muslims, and somehow I don't think my neighbors know about that. So since she has studied Bible and Quran both, how is the treatment different or similar?
Mark Siljander 25:58
That well, frankly, that marry is more emphasized in the Quran than the Bible. There's a whole a whole chapter on Mariam Mary in the Quran, but actually there in terms of functionality, there's no difference. She was a virgin Quran and the Bible. She was she can see Jesus without a man Quran and the Bible. Allah blew spirit into Mary's room and the crime in the Bible. Jesus was was born pure and sinless in the Quran, the Bible, he could heal the sick to blind or raise the dead in the ground in the Bible. And it says in the Quran that the Trinity doesn't is incorrect. It's not God, Jesus and Mary Mary's mentioned as part of a trinity and there's no no one no Christian thinks Mary's part of a trinity either. So I don't see any difference. And of any note notable difference between the Quran and the Bible regarding Mary.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 26:58
So but the main major difference comes in when Jesus is being discussed. I mean I will not be a Muslim, unless I believe in Jesus and other prophets. But we considered him a prophet, not God, Himself, and we worship the one which we believe Jesus worship. So how Jesus is is treated differently in Bible in the Quran.
Mark Siljander 27:28
I honestly don't see it, and we don't have time to get into it. But I'll give you an example. As with lecturing at a all women's Islamic college, and they all were as conservative they all were black, some complete hijaab and others, you know, the full burqa, and they asked me to lecture on Jesus in the Quran. I said all right. now ladies, I can do this in 40 seconds, ladies, you know that Jesus in the Quran, gave life to the better life to the sick, the blind and the leper. They said yes, with the permission of Allah said yes, he raised the dead, yes, with the permission of allah on their own nodding their head, and he actually created clay birds with his hands and breathed this breath is and these birds became living beings. Yes, he did that permission of allah. And the Quran says he is the Messiah, the Word of God, the Spirit of God. He said, Yes, this is all with the permission of Allah. So Well, let me tell you what the Gospels said. Jesus said in the Gospel, he said, I only do what Allahha that's the Aramaic tells me to do, and say what he tells me to say, and all permission was given to me to do these unbelievable miracles that are reserved mostly for God mean who can bring only allah can breath and clay to create Adam in the Quran and the Bible. So he had these remarkable gifts given to him? And he said, Yes, allah. He gave these all to me, and they were shocked. They said, Are you sure the Bible says that positive andsaid in more and he prayed to Allahha, he worship AllahHa, he only way he wanted to keep on the, sirat al mustaqeem, which is the straight path in his life. So I really don't see many differences. And I've written you know, we you can read my book and see some of the like the Trinity and the crucifixion, all these issues that rip Christians and Muslims apart. Really, I think even those are misunderstandings of the language of Arabic and Aramaic.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 29:39
You're watching Muslim network TV, and this is Imam Malik Mujahid talking with Congressman Mark Siljander about his work on deadly misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians and we will continue our conversation after this break.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 30:31
Welcome back to Muslim network TV. This is Imam Malik Mujahid. I'm talking with Mark Siljander, who is a former Congress person and an author. And a truth seeker was building bridges of understanding between Muslims and Christians. So your research and it's 30 years since how many congressmen actually go around doing research what you've ever done?
Mark Siljander 30:57
Well, zero, but however, I've traveled with many in the house in the Senate, US House. And, and the residual effect of this research, is congressmen when they especially Republican, evangelical types, when they when they hear how similar the Quran and the Bible, they're shocked as I was in the beginning, so they travel with me to Muslim countries. And we share with the presidents of these countries through research, rather than telling them what to do and threatening like, often our government will do. We tell the Muslim leaders, we want to be your friends, prayer partners, and share this research. And some of them are so excited like Gaddafi, Saddam, Omar al Bashir of the Sudan. Now these are, these are unsavory characters, a lot of people's minds, but I became very close to several of them. And in the course of doing that, we became prayer partners. And then like qaddafi, within 10 days of, of meeting with his regime. He released the Libyans that were that they were accused of blowing up the penet jet over Lockerbie, Scotland many years ago. And within a year and a half working with his regime, there's a rapprochement with the West. You mentioned the bombing and Libya, I think in your opening remarks. And I did try to stop the Iraq war and using a similar approach spiritual friendship partnership approach, but it was our side. It was the dick cheney and the neoconservatives who threatened me with crimes because they felt was interfering in Omar al Bashir deployed peacekeepers in war ravaged Darfour in the mid 2000s. Only after we prayed and talked. And then he said, well, let's work together. So we so this research imam what is net is more much more than enlightening myself and other people. It's actually contributed directly to removing six conflicts, mitigation, six conflicts and the genocide in Darfur.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 33:14
That is, so so so this is not just theoretical exercise for you. So this is exercise of love to bring peace a between America and other countries in which we are in conflict. How has the been in so many you? You seem to have to pay a price instead of a friend and a congressperson who represented our country honorably in the United Nations, you became the target of a vicious campaign of acquisition in the media, and lawsuits. What did you foresee coming? Or you're surprised?
Mark Siljander 33:58
Well, I was threatened by mostly the Bush administration. Clinton left me alone. Obama didn't he didn't met he agreed, generally with our approach, but it was the eight years of the Bush administration, mostly Dick Cheney, and what they call the Neo conservatives, they're war Hawks. And they threatened me many times. But I felt maybe an arrogance. I you know, please, Allah forgive me that, oh, what are they going to do to me? Well, they can do anything to anyone they want. And quickly, they accused me of hanging of terror being associated with terror funding with Muslims. I mean, it's so it's me. I mean, it's so ludicrous. And I had James Baker, the former Secretary of State, Ed Meese, a former US Attorney General, so many my friends democrat and Republicans come to help me but once you're targeted, this even the president can't well, who Whatever they might be, can escape it. Whether you can hate Trump or whatever, but this thick, they just dragged him into all these investigations, they could do that to a president good or bad or a different they could do to a former congressman. So ultimately, they all they could tie me in is I lied to the FBI about lobbying for US Muslim charity, and which I did not. But they said if I didn't confess with that, they'd re indict me for more things in it. And after years and years, finally threw in the towel was sentenced. And, and they to find the final charges were lying and not registering as a lobbyist. And they put me in jail for a year. And while in jail, I had this massive tumor that started out like the tip of a finger became the size 18 centimeters, the size of a man's fist. And they gave me three months or less to live. And that was eight and a half years ago. So I survived high level prison survived what they thought was terminal cancer and all the attacks of the neoconservatives and in attacking a reputation and trying to take me as low as they could they're all gone I'm still around and hamdulillah still traveling making peace in Central African Republic in Sudan in the new Sudan north and south and still traveling and and working and writing books and making hopefully there'll be a movie about all this it's not an I my initiation but I'm very excited hopeful
Abdul Malik Mujahid 36:41
sorry to hear about all of what you went through I'm I hope some friends stood by with you who were you're trying to build? I'm in bridge building is not easy, and acquisitions and these are the test i mean Jesus peace be upon him have been tested by human beings betrayed by some of the human beings and they thought they actually hanged him I mean of course i mean i as a Muslim don't believe God saved him and but but you mentioned in this trial in the prison did and when you're in prison you got this deadly form of cancer which you what you what you survived. Did that allow you some time for extra reflection on everything which you have been going through because it's speaking the truth?
Mark Siljander 37:48
Well, if of course it did. But I so busy every day as with people morning, noon and night, the prison fire at me from any job, you know, usually inmates have jobs, because they didn't want me teaching being around inmates because I was sharing these bridge building ideas with Muslims and Christians, blacks and whites than even skinheads with nasty swastikas all over their bald heads. They had spiritual experience. So I ended up praying madness, skinheads, gangbangers, inner city, blacks, Latino gang members, Muslims, all kneeling and praying together. And the prison said I was conducting riots, religious riots and thrifted I don't think kneeling and praying is conducting a riot. And then most of them came up to me and said, the Imam wants to see you he's he was an inmate from Syria. And all my friend Oh, don't go see them. Don't go see the Muslims. Don't do that. Don't do that. They're gonna kill you. I said, No. Why would they kill me? Because in my book, deadly missunderstanding. There are 20 copies that somehow got into the prisoner circulating all throughout the prison. Anyway, so I went to see the Imam and in his cell are four or five other Muslims standing around, and he had two copies of my book, sitting on a makeshift crate in front of his his, in his cell, and he can see salaam aleikum when we embraced and he's told me how his two sons were straying from Allah. And he read the book a deadly misunderstanding. And when I please autograph it to each of his sons, he wants to send it to them. Hopefully it will come back to God. I mean, see everything people warn me. Oh, don't go to the inner city black guys. They'll kill you don't go to the Latin gang members. They'll cut your throat don't go the Muslim. It was just the opposite. Allah was full of Rahma Rahim mercy, compassion and love to the very thing that worked with world leaders to make peace worked in the prison. I mean, it was just literally so how can I be Bitter. It was a horrible experience. It was frightening. Yes, cockroaches and rats in his old. It's like the Third World prison. They sent me to a 93 year old prison, federal prison. And they didn't send me to a camp, you know, it's like just in for five or six months of the year that they're out. But they sent me to a prison. Hopefully I'd get killed and just the opposite. People were gracious. And congressmen, Senators, were helping me on the outside. They knew I was railroaded many of them. So I have nothing to complain about. It's all been actually I look back at it, I feel stronger, better, healthier, and spiritually and physically.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 40:43
That's good to know. I'm an admire of your spirit. I'm the type of challenges human being go through in the life cycle if they, if they believe in God, submit to Him and continue to do the good work of serving humanity and what is serving humanity the prophetic mission of bringing peace and justice to people. Those people who were you know those some some of the people you mentioned as neoconservatives and warmongers? Did you had any chance after you got released to communicate with any one of them? Who were thrilled?
Mark Siljander 41:19
I was asked not to talk to any of them. But I have in my heart forgiven all of them for the false accusations. And they had their political motives. See what was happening. We found out later, General Wesley Clark, you might have heard of him, of course, just a few years ago, that there was a secret policy in the bush administration for regime change in the six or seven countries. And I was, in their view meddling in at least four or five of them. And if the regime starts behaving, they lose leverage to change regime. They thought What is this former congressman doing, running around the world with the regimes that we want to get rid of? And they start behaving? They said, Well, what is he doing? And I would insist, and Netflix did an interview interviewed me on this, so I didn't do anything. So what do you mean? So I just showed up, shared my research. Loved the people eyes with with Raham, you know, is the most one of the most used words in the Quran. And Jesus used it in is translated often as love, including mercy and compassion. So I just use that word raham rahman because it's such beautiful and one of the most beautiful words that exists because Allah is full of rahma. He's full of love and compassion, and you know, what . The root means the room, the woman's womb, so to bless it is what comes from the womb, and this tender mercies. We love each other that way, friendship, which is hab a different word, and Rahma which is tender mercies, God will do the rest, we have to just trust that God through His ruhul qudus, the Quran calls the Holy Spirit will work in people's hearts, including mine, and we don't have to push or do anything. And my life has been nothing short, honestly of a miracle. And I'm thankful to God for all he's given to me, including the suffering, not that I want any more. But I have to say,
Mark Siljander 43:31
and I'll conclude
Mark Siljander 43:32
with this thought, Jesus talked a lot about very little him about being baptized. But he did mention the baptism of suffering. In the Gospels, the baptism of now the words we were going to be immersed in suffering, if we really follow sirat al mustaqeem the straight path. So yes, we suffer. We've survived. And I'm thankful. And thank you, thank you for asking.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 44:02
No ,thank you. Thank you for spending your time on this. So what is that film is coming about, i mean, and there are and there was a person sitting where I used to give sermon in downtown Chicago, a person always will be in front lines for Friday prayers and sermons. Didn't see him for a while. And when I saw him, I just tell him to stay after the prayer. And I said, Well, where were you? It turns out, they say, Well, I went to, you know, perform my pilgrimage to Makkah, when I came back, officers met me at the airport. And they, they told me, he interviewed me and wanted me to spy on some people. When I declined, they they say, well, then we have something on you. And he was detained. And the bottom line thing was a $3,000 invoice with somebody who's a businessman who made his office. And that invoice was incorrect. So he was charged with money laundering. But the point and he spent two years in prison for that $3,000. And what was not told to do was that invoice person who made the invoice was planted by FBI. That was the secret evidence on which the jury didn't know. So they gave him two years in prison. And when he released that's how I came to know. So so so. So what you went through is something a lot of your brothers and sisters in Muslim community, and also in neighbors of other faiths, who for somehow refused to cooperate or collaborate on somebody else went through. And I personally feel sorry, that there were two Muslims who are involved in giving false testimony against you. And I hope you pray for them, pray to God that He forgives them for what they have done. But this is part of a our criminal justice system in which people just get implicated one way or the other when somebody wants to get you. And so so is your I heard that you're writing a new book? Are you going to do a little bit about our justice system in this world, and then real judges, God Almighty, who we beg will forgive?
Mark Siljander 46:52
Yes, criminal justice system, there has been a legislation passed by the House and Senate and President Trump signed it. That is first step act is called and it is just the first step, but it's a very positive one. And my second book that's finished but not published yet, we're we're waiting for a movie script on the book to be finished. So the book can be more aligned with the movie potential movie, and it'll deal with to the criminal justice system, he will talk about my time in prison. And when I met so many inmates so many that had, were falsely accused, many deserve to be in prison. But I would say my experience, about a third of them need a mental institution, not to be in prison. And another third should be sent home because they were nonviolent offenders. And they were the It was clear when I read their their legal story that they were the charges were exaggerated, then a third probably deserved it on my fingers are probably not exactly right. But that's my estimation. So I'm glad the house in the Senate and President Trump sign this critical bill. And that's a hopefully whomever is President next, Biden will continue the second step act. And
Abdul Malik Mujahid 48:14
just so these type of implicating people, does this phenomena of trapping people implicated implicating him with law enforcement forces people to testify against his some of these things will be included? Are they part of that whole reform?
Mark Siljander 48:32
Yes, they have to be. And some of them are in the first step act, in that second act of the second bill, I hope hopefully will come next year when the new Congress takes over will include further deeper exploration into prohibiting this type of ex extortion manipulation, like the two people my case, if they said, If you testify that Mark siljander actually lobbied for you. Because I say I didn't lobby for them, that they receive probation, both of them. And I went to prison, which is and I have forgiven them, I have prayed for them, for them. So it's critical not to be angry, and it's easy to be angry. When you're crushed in and sent to a horrible place, and your finances, your reputation, everything seems lost. And then they tell you if you're going to have three months or left to live, I mean, it was quite devastating. But God showed me that I deserved worse. You know that my life. What I did in Congress is such nothing illegal. But he said you pushed arms and for rebel rebels fighting communist regimes and for regimes fighting communist rebels and Those arms killed men, women and children, even though that wasn't your intention. So God humbled me and showed me that he was being rahman and rahim , even though I was in prison. And looking back now, eight years later, all I can say is subhanAllah. Praise, praise be to God. And Jesus in Aramaic said the same "suphan de la ha", you hear the similarity? Su Pon de la Ha,
Abdul Malik Mujahid 50:33
Thank you so much, Congressman, an ambassdor Mark Siljander for being with us. It truly humbles me that a person who has served our country with honor in search of the truth, helping our country, build bridges of understanding have to suffer in this world in this particular way. I can tell you that insha Allah God willing, better days are coming in this world and even better days in the hereafter. much for being with us.
Mark Siljander 51:12
Shukria in and God Allah God bless you.
Abdul Malik Mujahid 51:17
Thank you. And thank you Sherdil Khan and Dr. Abdul Waheed for producing today's show. And thank you all for watching the show. This show tells you what Muslim network TV is about. It's about building bridges of understanding between Muslims and their neighbors, whether they believe in something or they do not believe in, but understanding each other is critical for humanity to thrive, and move forward and liberate ourselves from fake fear, hate and anger. You're watching Muslim network TV. We're always there. 24 seven on galaxy 19 satellite covering all North America and on Roku TV, Apple TV amazon fire tv. You can download our app Muslim network TV on your iPhone or Android and our website is Muslim network.tv peace