“(34) Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism (35) but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right” (Acts 10:34 and 35, New International Version).
Earlier this year (around January, 2010) I began to do some ‘investigation’ of Islam to determine the truth (or falsehood) of all the accusations going around that Islam is an intolerant and bigoted religion, a religion of violence and terror. You know the sort of accusations I’m talking about: Islam’s ‘holy book’, the Qur’an, teaches Muslims to search out and kill all non-Muslims (‘infidels’). The airplane attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City were supposedly carried out by faithful and zealous adherents of the Qur’an and Islam, who were just obeying the teachings of that religion. One of the things I did was find an online English translation of the Qur’an and investigate the verses which are supposed to support this idea. The results of that investigation were given in my article Does Islam Proclaim That All Infidels Should Be Killed.
In addition, though, I checked out a couple of books from the library, concerning the history of Islam and Islam in America. One of those books was entitled What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West by Feisal Abdul Rauf. It is an excellent book, explaining how Islam relates to the Constitution of the United States of America, and why American Muslims love that Constitution with the freedom it guarantees, and do not wish to change it. Feisal Rauf is Imam of a Muslim congregation in New York City. That congregation has, for the past 27 years, met in a mosque 12 blocks from the former Twin Towers. The congregation is so large, though, that they have to hold 3 meetings to accommodate everyone. Naturally they want to have a larger building that will hold everyone at once for one service. So they have sought and gained permission to build a new Islamic Center on a site which will be only 2 blocks from the Towers, which will essentially be a Community Center – housing recreational facilities (swimming pool and basketball court) and educational facilities, as well as a large prayer room for the regular prayer services. Does that sound vile and malicious to you?
Well, even though there apparently wasn’t much opposition to the presence of the existing mosque, now that plans have been made (and approved 29 to 1 by the town council) for the new Center a little bit closer to the former Towers, the champions of intolerance and hatred have come out of the woodwork to vociferously denounce the project. I’m sure you’ve heard about it, but just in case you’re not very familiar with the controversy, do a search on “mosque near ground zero” and see all of the articles available spewing malicious hatred for Islam and this new Islamic Center.
Of course, a lot of the usual lies are uttered about Islam itself being a violent religion and the source of terrorism. 🙄 We are told those verses are in the Qur’an; just look and see! And of course those “violent” verses are in the Qur’an – though (as I showed in the article referred to earlier) when they are read contextually they will be seen to refer to self defense when attacked rather than to aggressive and terrorist violence. One could just as easily claim that Christianity is a religion of violence, based on such verses as Matthew 10:34 – 36, where Jesus says: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Or think of Paul exhorting Timothy: “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). Didn’t Paul there promise Timothy that he would gain eternal life by fighting in the cause of Christ? And Paul said concerning himself: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day…” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Doesn’t Paul claim he was going to receive a reward for fighting in Christ’s cause? Someone could say: “those violent verses are in the Bible; just look for yourself and see!” And someone who is not familiar with the Bible and Christianity might be easily fooled into thinking Christianity is violent if he just looked up the verses quoted, and didn’t contextualize them. And there are certainly enough instances in history when ‘Christians’ have used violence “in the name of Christ” to give a lot of support to that conclusion. Yet any good Christian will protest that those verses have been ripped out of their contexts and perverted in the interest of a vile cause; and the historical instances of violence in the name of Christ were illustrations of how evil men can twist and pervert scripture to support their evil goals. Christians will rightly maintain that Jesus Christ had nothing to do with those violent acts, and he will ‘condemn’ the perpetrators in ‘the Day of Judgment’. The same is true with regard to those verses in the Qur’an, and the violent acts of terrorists in the name of Allah! Allah (God) had nothing to do with the acts of the terrorists, and will (contrary to their perverted thinking) condemn them when they are judged! (And Muhammad, their prophet, will join in that condemnation of the terrorists 😯 ). And mainstream Muslims strongly believe that. They repudiate the notion that the terrorists had any true connection to Islam, the Qur’an, or Allah (God).
But some people, not wanting to appear bigoted or intolerant, say that even though it’s true that Islam itself is not to blame, those terrorists did claim to be committing their atrocities in the name of Allah – so it’s ‘understandable’ that the acts would be perceived by the suffering victims as Islamic in nature. Shouldn’t Muslims be ‘sensitive’ to how it appears, and have sympathy for the feelings of the families and friends of those who died in those attacks? Shouldn’t Muslims refuse to ‘rub salt in the wounds’ by building their mosque on the site of a terrorist attack? There are 2 or 3 responses to that suggestion.
First – While in the immediate aftermath of the attacks it was ‘understandable’ that the violence would be perceived as part and parcel of Islam, this is no longer the case. It has been almost 9 years since the attacks, and that is more than sufficient time for the ‘rawness’ of the wounds to heal, and a more clear headed understanding of who the perpetrators were and weren’t to have been achieved. (This is not to say families should just ‘get over’ their losses; they will certainly still mourn their dead family and friends, and be angry at the murderers. But they should certainly, by this time, be able to focus on the true murderers, not imagine that Muslims in general are guilty). If some people are still operating under a false perception of the facts, then it is high time that they ‘wake up’. Muslims should not have to keep pandering to ignorance and seeking to appease the ignorant through ‘sensitivity’ – nor should they even be expected to do so. It is actually long past time for American citizens to reaffirm the principle of religious liberty so basic to our nation, and let the Muslim people get on with the free expression of their religion.
Second – If Muslims should be sensitive to the non-Muslim families and friends of those murdered by Al Qaeda terrorists, the non-Muslim folks should also be sensitive to the feelings of the Muslims – both those who themselves lost family and friends in that vile attack, and Muslims in general. Many people act as if there were no Muslims killed by the terrorists. If they are really ignorant that the terrorists were ‘non-discriminatory’ in their murder, then again it’s high time that they wake up to reality. There were plenty of Muslims who were killed, and their families and friends are also among the ‘wounded’. For a partial list of Muslims killed on 9/11, check out this site. But these Muslim families, and all other mainstream Muslims, have had to carry the additional burden of being blamed for the attacks, while knowing that they themselves and their religion had nothing to do with it. They have sought to make it clear that they completely repudiate Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda – but the mainstream media doesn’t have much interest in printing or broadcasting that information. Shouldn’t Americans be ‘sensitive’ to the feelings of these innocent Muslims, and particularly of those who lost friends and family members? If we act with ‘sensitivity’, we will stop doing and saying things which are offensive to those Muslims, and which ‘rub salt in their wounds’. We will let them build their Centers for prayer and worship – as well as education and recreation – without protest or hindrance.
Third – It appears to me that the real source of the opposition is not the non-Muslim families and friends of victims; rather it is the purveyors of religious bigotry and hatred who have an agenda to pursue, and exploit the families of non-Muslim victims in that pursuit. It is they who ‘rub salt in people’s wounds’ and egg on the victims’ families by spewing out their vile hatred, blaming Islam itself for the terrorism. You see, this hullabaloo over the NYC Islamic Center is not a solitary event; other proposed mosques are also opposed, though the objectors can’t claim proximity to the former Twin Towers as an excuse. (See this news article, for instance). Other existing mosques have been firebombed or vandalized and desecrated by graffiti. People are even physically attacked for looking “Muslim” (Arabic) – though the man in question here was a Greek Christian priest. Particularly sad, and yet very ironic, is an incident that took place at the recent protest at ‘ground zero’. Two Egyptian Coptic Christians, who work for a Christian Satellite TV station based in California, had flown to NYC to take part in the protest against the Islamic Center. The mob gathered there thought they were Muslims and attacked them – with the result that the police had to rescue those 2 men! That link takes you to page 2 of the article; you might want to check out page 1 also for further interesting descriptions of this mob of supporters of ‘sensitivity’.
All of this clearly shows that this protest is not about ‘insensitivity’ of the Muslims at all, nor about the proximity of the mosque to ‘ground zero’. It’s about a bitter religious hatred and bigotry, based on lies, which will not be satisfied until all Muslims (or even people who “look Muslim”) are driven from this country. This is pure evil, and must be openly and emphatically opposed. These haters of a religion (Islam) and of foreigners in general must not be allowed to triumph in their religious war, nor given any encouragement at all. If they are allowed to prevent the construction of this particular Islamic Center, they will have a precedent which will be used to completely undermine the most basic of our Constitutional principles: complete freedom of religion and conscience. The statements that Muslims are attempting to mock America and ‘Western values’ by building this mosque are complete lies, and reveal the state of mind of the protester, not that of the peaceful American Muslim community. Personally, I find it to be a very telling testimony in their favor that the American Muslim community has not in fact risen up in angry and violent protest against the hatred, slander, and vilification which has been aimed at them because of the actions of a few terrorists whom they repudiate.