Posts Tagged ‘Cordoba Initiative’

What’s right (and wrong) with Feisal Abul Rauf

August 27, 2010

Imam Abdul Feisal Rauf, the Muslim cleric behind the Park51 project, is a good person and a patriotic American, even if I don’t agree with everything he says.

After the 9/11 attacks, he went beyond just denouncing the 9/11 attacks.  He offered his services to the FBI as an expert adviser, and he visited majority-Muslim countries on behalf of the State Department to speak on behalf of the United States, at the risk of being labeled a stooge for the U.S. government.

Judea Pearl, the father of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and beheaded in 2002 by terrorists in Pakistan affiliated with al Qaeda, invited Imam Rauf to speak at a memorial service for Daniel Pearl at B’nai Jeshurun synagogue in Manhattan.  Imam Rauf affirmed in that service that the religious values of Judaism, Christianity and Islam were not only the same, but were the values of the same religion.

Yet he is under attack as an enemy of Judaism and Christianity because of the Park51 project, the so-called Ground Zero Mosque which is not at Ground Zero and not a mosque.

I first heard of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf some years ago, when I picked up his book, What’s Right With Islam: a New Vision for Muslims and the West, in a bookstore selling remaindered books.

In the book Rauf tries to explain and justify Islam to non-Muslim Americans, and American ideals to Muslims.  He makes a case that the principles of Islam, rightly understood, are compatible with American freedom and democracy, and to Muslims that American freedom and democracy, rightly understood, is compatible with Islam.

Imam Rauf says that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the successive unfolding of the same religion, which teaches that all human beings are children of the same Heavenly Father and that all of them are entitled to justice and worthy of love and compassion.  American freedom and democracy, in his view, are part of that same “Abrahamic” tradition.

Muslims, like Orthodox Jews, give a central place to religious law, which they call “shari’a.”  To me, as to many Americans, the word conjures up pictures of Islam at its worst, ignorant fanatics in places such as northern Nigeria stoning women to death for adultery.  Imam Rauf says “shari’a” should be understood as God’s law in the way that most Christians and Jews, and as the writers of the Declaration of Independence understood it when they appealed to “the laws of Nature, and of Nature’s God.”

What’s wrong with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

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The Burlington Coat Factory Mosque

August 18, 2010

I wonder how many people think the “Ground Zero Mosque” will be an actual mosque on the actual site of Ground Zero, rather than a community center in a former Burlington Coat Factory store two blocks away.

It would be easy to get that impression based on the news coverage.  I imagine that, lower Manhattan being what it is, there are pornographic book stores and strip clubs as close to the former Twin Towers site as the Cordoba House will be, but nobody calls them the Ground Zero Porn Shops or the Ground Zero Strip Joints.

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A mosque near Ground Zero?

July 19, 2010

Actually, what’s being proposed for lower Manhattan is something called Cordoba House, a Muslim-sponsored community facility open to people of all faiths, like a YMCA or a Jewish Community Center.  It would have a swimming pool, basketball courts, meeting rooms and an interfaith chapel which would be used as a mosque.

The name commemorates the golden age of Muslim-ruled Spain, when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in peace and the cultures of all three groups flourished.

Some people take exception to a mosque being built just two blocks from Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center was destroyed by al Qaeda terrorists.  They said it is an insult to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, overlooking the Muslims among the victims.

I personally think the Cordoba House is a great idea.  The worst thing in the world, from the point of view of the al Qaeda and Taliban leaders, is a demonstration that the United States has a place for people of all religions, including Muslims, and that American Muslims reject their brand of religious intolerance.

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