A Muslim Case Against the Mosque
by Stephen Schwartz
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf bills his plan for an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero -- which the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to vote on tonight -- as a platform for interfaith cooperation, dialogue and understanding.
But the plan is obviously provocative and confrontational -- and it's hard to imagine that Rauf didn't know that long before it became public.
That's one big reason why American Muslims, like other Americans, should reject the project -- particularly if they really want to adhere to traditional Islamic principles. I say that as a Muslim convert since 1997.
Traditional, moderate Islam teaches Muslims living in non-Muslim-majority societies to obey the laws and customs of the country in which they reside. They must avoid conflict with their non-Muslim neighbors whenever possible.
Yet it was no secret that a major Islamic construction project near Ground Zero would offend many New Yorkers; indeed, American Muslims themselves were uneasy about the idea from the beginning. Rauf, while he preaches peace, chose the path of controversy and provocation by originating this mosque project.
Muslim leaders dealing with non-Muslims are also supposed to practice moderation -- not only in words, but also in their deeds and associations. Rauf portrays himself as a spiritual moderate. But he has maintained links with Muslim radicals, including enablers of terror, whom he declines to disavow. These include the Malaysian politician Mahathir Mohamad, who supports Hamas' Gaza dictatorship.
The imam refuses to identify the prospective financial contributors to his undertaking -- so we don't know if there are any radicals among his donors.
American Muslim leaders, especially Sufis and other moderates who assert that peace may be attained through dialogue, cannot accept any alignment with Hamas or any similar organization.
Nor, for that matter, can Muslim leaders allow any accommodation with the clerical tyranny in Iran or with such extremists as the Saudi Wahhabis, Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is a branch) or Pakistani jihadism. Unfortunately, such groups now heavily influence American Islam.
Muslim radicals may see the argument over the Ground Zero mosque as a test of whether Muslims have equal rights in America.
But Muslims will gain such security through sensitivity to their non-Muslim neighbors and resolute opposition to radicalism, not through defiant posturing or defending extremist activities.