“Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the founder and chairman of the initiative, said construction of the center “sends the opposite statement of what happened on 9/11. We want to push back against the extremists.” We hope the families of 9/11 victims and other Americans who have rushed to judgment will reflect on those words. And on this comment by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Sarah Palin has a right to her opinions, but I could not disagree more. Everything the United States stands for, New York stands for, is tolerance and openness.” The mayor’s remarks are the best “refudiation” of Palin, Gingrich and others who have criticized and caricatured this project.”
This is a thoughtful and well thought out short article about the controversy over the building of Cordoba House – a cultural center and masjid that is planned to be built near the site of the horrific attack on September 11, 2001.
I have read so much mis-information about this project and I have listened to Sean Hanity over and over again falsely call Imam Feisal a “radical Imam”. I have also read the New York gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino, express the opinion that Cordoba House is such an affront to the sensitivities of Americans that the building should be taken over by eminent domain and made into a 9/11 museum.
I could not disagree more with the critics and opponents of this project. First of all, I have listened to Imam Feisal speak and I find that if he is radical at all it is in the direction of returning Islam to the original heart centered spiritual path that was intended and which can be found in Qur’an and the authentic Ahadith. His words that I heard were for progressing and bolstering those aspects above all others. The spiritual practices of this great religion which bring us closer to our maker, closer to following divine guidance.
Sean Hannity has mis-interpreted Imam Feisal’s words many times in the talks of his that I have heard. He pretends to have knowledge of what Imam Feisal has in mind. I have read What is Right With Islam. There is nothing but truth and peace in that book, and there is nothing there that Americans should fear. What the book does point out is the many, many ways in which American values and Islamic values are already the same and how can both groups benefit from that knowledge. Sean Hannity is constantly harping on his false impression that Imam Feisal would like the US to adopt Sharia Law and the fear tactic that Hannity always uses is his perception of what that means to women. Well one would not have to go further than Imam Feisal to find a better example of a person who understands women’s rights. For example, I have personally heard him say that he does not believe that there is any justification for the requirement of all women to wear the headscarf, even in prayers. And if one takes the time to meet his lovely wife, Daisy Khan, one would immediately see that Imam Feisal is not the kind of brutal, Sharia thumping, misogynist that Hannity makes him out to be.
In the end, whatever the outcome, there is a movement – of which I hope I am a part – of Muslims in this country with a dual agenda. First to wipe out the impression of Islam that the extremists and the terrorists have given to the world and, second, to introduce people to the real Islam. The Islam that I love and practice in my heart, body, soul and spirit every moment of every day, insha’allah.