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An Open Letter to Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, Promoter of the New York’s Ground Zero Mosque
August 2010
Dear Imam Abdul Rauf,
Congratulations on attaining your aim to build an Islamic community center and mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero.
Allowing the construction of this complex close to where the former World Trade Center stood on the morning of September 11, 2001 is a tribute to American’ssense of justice and strength, self-confidence and tolerance, respect to the rule of law and secularism.
Imam Abdul Rauf, your big challenge has just begun. To fulfill your interest in reconciling religions and countering the backlash against Muslims you must deal with very serious and sensitive issues. With respect, sir, I would like to outline six issues.
First, until you are able to pacify the intolerant and violent Quranic verses against non-Muslims in general, Christians and Jews in particular, please refrain from proclaiming Islam a religion of peace. Although the Quran contains tolerant peaceful verses like 2:62, 2:136, 2:256, 29:46, it also contains intolerant violent verses like 2:65, 2:120, 2:191, 2:193, 2:216, 2:217, 5:14, 5:51, 5:59, 5:60, 5:78, 8:60, 9:05, 9:29.
xe “tolerant Verses” xe “Jihadists”
xe “Jews”
Will you teach that today’s Christians and Jews are to be condemned the way the Quran condemns their seventh century ancestors? Will you take issue with men like Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudais, the leading cleric of Islam’s holiest mosque in Mecca, who told his congregation in 2004: “Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil forefathers of the even more evil Jews of today . . . the scum of the human race, accursed by Allah, who turned them into apes and pigs.”
Second, there is the Islamic Shari’a treatment of women—four wives simultaneously to one Muslim man, divorce at his will without giving cause, a woman’s inheritance and testimony in a court of law being equal to one half of those of a man. Misyar marriage contracts (for Sunnis) and mut’a marriages (for Shi’ites) are akin to prostitution.
xe “divorce”
Also, Sahih Al-Bukhari attributed to the Prophet saying that most of those who are in hell are women, that women's "lack of intelligence" is the reason why a woman's testimony in an Islamic court of law is equal to half that of the testimony of the Muslim male, and that the reason why women are prohibited from praying and fasting during menstruation is due to them being "deficient in religious belief." Sunan Al-Nasai attributed to the Prophet saying: "People who entrust the management of their affairs to a woman will fail."
Will you be encouraging the faithful to apply Shari’a injunctions?
Imam Abdul Rauf, may I respectfully suggest that you benefit us with your thoughts on Shari’a treatment of women as compared with the treatment accorded by the Prophet Muhammad to his first wife Khadija? We are told that Khadija was the best born in Quraish, a successful businesswoman and the richest. We are also told that Khadija employed young Muhammad in her business, that she proposed marriage to Him when He was about 25 years old, and that she was about 15 years His senior and twice a widow. We are told that for the 25 years of the Prophet's marriage to Khadija, until her death in 620, He remained monogamous to her, that she was the one person to whom He turned for advice and comfort, and that Khadija was the first convert to Islam. Such an image makes Khadija an emancipated, commanding woman of high standing in Meccan society and in the eyes of her husband par excellence, and that the Prophet treated her with faithfulness and devotion.
Will you be explaining the contradiction between the Prophet's treatment of Khadija and the treatment of women that emerged under Shari’a Law?
Will you be teaching and preaching that disobedient woman (wives) should be hit or beaten up in order to accord with Quran’s 4:34?
Will you be explaining why it is that Muslim non-Arab Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Turkey interpret Sharia Law in such a way as to allow women to become presidents and prime ministers.
Do you support the suckling of the adult fatwa, which has recently become the subject of considerable debate in Arab media? If the answer is no, will you explain Sahih Muslim’s dedication of a special section titled: “Suckling the grown-up man” as well as Sunan Abi Dawood’s dedication of a similar section to the same subject.
Third, will you be teaching that the punishment for apostasy from Islam (and blasphemy) is death, that for false accusation and drinking alcohol the punishment is flogging (though in 47:15 the Quran promises rivers of wine in paradise)? Will you be preaching that the penalty for theft is amputation of a hand (5:38) and a foot (if theft is repeated) and for theft with homicide is execution by the sword followed by crucifixion, and that the punishment for adultery (when the offenders are mature, married Muslims) is stoning to death? On the penalty for adultery, the Quran imposes 100 lashes to each adulterer (24:2). However, attributions to the Prophet by five Hadith collectors changed the punishment for adultery from 100 lashes to stoning the adulteress and the adulterer until death. Which penalty will you be advocating?
Fourth, will the new center sponsor academic research on its own or in conjunction with prime universities in the East and the West into the historicity of the Quran and the Hadith scientifically?
Fifth, will you be teaching that Shi’ites, Islamilis, Druzes, Alawites, let alone non-Muslims are heretics?
Sixth, how will you teach verse 9:29: “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day… even if they are of the People of the Book, until they pay the protective tax (jizya) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” While verses like 2:120, 5:14, 5:51, and 5:78 criticize Christian and Jews and urge Muslims not to befriend them, 9:29 goes beyond criticism, friendship, and retaliation--it orders Muslims to fight Christian and Jews even if these people do not attack Muslims.
xe “Jizya” xe “Jews”
On an individual level, it is hoped that your teaching and preaching will inspire Islamists to experience moments of remorse for what their jihadist brethren had done to the neighborhood that now hosts your center. Hopefully, your preaching will inspire Islamists everywhere to compare their hatred with the understanding that America affords you and their violence with the protection that N.Y. now accords you. Hopefully, you will inspire in jihadists the world over that feeling of genuine gratitude and true respect to, if not love of, America and what America’s ideals really mean.
Hopefully, the new center will prompt those Islamic countries that discriminate against their own non-Muslim citizens and residents to appreciate, possibly emulate, America’s religious tolerance and freedom.
Hopefully, the new center won’t be hijacked by Wahhabi money and be reduced to a Pakistan/Taliban madrassah type. Hopefully, New York authorities will ensure that that will not happen and that the directors and officers of the new center would be held accountable for their deeds.
Hopefully, you would succeed in establishing branches of your center in Macca, Madina, Braida, Eniza and the rest of the Wahhabi hot bed towns and villages of the Qaseem region and the lands controlled by their Taliban disciples in Pakistan and Afghanistan so that religions may be reconciled and the backlash against Muslims may be countered.
Elie Elhadj
Background information
On September 11, 2001, the day Islamist terrorists flew two passenger airplanes into the World Trade Center, a plane's landing gear crashed through the roof of the 152 year old Burlington Coat Factory’s five-story building at 45-47 Park Place, two blocks north of Ground Zero. The building, vacant since that fateful day, was purchased in July 2009 for nearly $5 million by a real estate company associated with the promoters of the new center.
Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and an investor in the project, has announced plans to transform the site intoa $100 million 15-story Islamic center, called Park51, with a swimming pool, basketball court, a library, art studios, auditorium, a September 11 memorial besides the mosque and room for seminars to reconcile religions and to counteract the backlash against Muslims in general.
The project created a storm of passionate debate. Its promoters and supporters argue that the project will bring better understanding among religions. To its opponents, the project is an insensitive aggressive act.