Views expressed here are author"s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is
at the bottom.
Feedback to author
This article is in three parts. First part, "Moderate Muslims" describes the dilemma faced by America and part two, "It is Sharia, Stupid!" presents why Sharia plays central role in formulation of Muslim society and culture. In third part I offer a non-violent solution to end American controversy over the Cordoba House by proposing establishment of the Fifty-One Park Interfaith House.
Muslim scriptures related to blasphemy, etc inhibits all Muslims to protest against atrocities called Jihad by radical forces. Moderate Muslims generally do not protest against terrorism unless to be politically correct as is the case with organizers of the Cordoba House project.
Controversy over the Cordoba House is a reaction to a decade ago terrorist attacks by reactionary fundamentalist Muslim (RFM) on America. The RFM based in the Afpak region are active in America, Europe and India. The American dilemma is to neutralize RFM as well as accommodate moderate Muslims who want to build a 13 to 15-story Islamic center, with top two floors for prayers halls two blocks from the Ground Zero.
Some say the center may be transformed into a political action center by moderate Muslims. Some opponents of the project are Christian bigots and most are political activists familiar with tactics of moderate Muslims to attain political power in adopted lands. A fear is that once Muslims attain a political foothold, the process of Islamization may accelerate in America.
Every Muslim suicide bomber and lethal terrorist from Philippines to Somalia is supported by thousands of financiers, clerics, propagandist, trainers, leaders, operatives and sympathizers. The freelance fundamentalist Muslim populations in global 1.4 billion are estimated at 7% or 98 million; up to 40 million fundamentalists are in the Afpak region (see notes). All Muslims, moderate or not, uphold and practice one of many Sharia. Moderate and fundamentalist Muslims strive for political power in adopted lands.
History teaches behavior patterns of Muslims. Fundamentalist Muslims occupied Iberian Peninsula in 8th century. Muslims ruled it for 500 years. Muslims of Iberian Peninsula were considered moderate and the region was noted for scientific and technological innovations. Sharia was practiced. From 13th to 15th century Christians successfully liberated the peninsula and deported most of surviving Muslims.
Parts of South Asia were occupied starting 950AD by fundamentalist Muslims from Islamic Central Asia and Middle East. Mughal Empire in India lasted from 15 - 19th century until the region was colonized by the British. Some Mughal Kings like Akbar were moderate, some like Aurangzeb, fundamentalist. Moderate Muslim poet Sir Mohammed Iqbal proposed the idea of Pakistan in 19th century and it took hold in political circles leading to partition of British India in 20th century.
Two examples are cited to point out that for 14 centuries Muslims are known to be after power in their adopted homelands. In case of Iberian Peninsula local Christians were able to liberate their homelands occupied by Muslims. In South Asia in 20th century Hindus out numbered Muslims by four+ to one and they had to settle for a partition in 1947. Muslims justified demand for partition of India by arguing that Sharia follower Muslim culture and a closed society was distinct and incompatible with Hindu culture based open society.
Being an open democratic society, unlike Muslim society, Americans manage their political differences in noisy manners. Moderate Muslims are exploiting progressive Americans as well as legal and cultural ideal of Islam arguments for building mosques and cultural centers all across America. This is the Islamic infrastructure foundation for future political power grab.
I have yet to hear Muslims in America denounce and discard Sharia; have you? Historically established behavior patterns of Sharia touting Muslims include use of local legal system and cultural ideals of Islam to achieve a sustained political destabilization in the adopted lands, as was seen in South Asia and now days observed in certain parts of Europe, followed by a demand for partition in the name of Islam.
A fundamental issue in American context should be addressed. Are Muslims in America prepared to denounce and discard Sharia, historically known to be the catalyst for spread of Islamic ideals of society and culture? Building enduring interfaith relationships requires critical thought. As long as there is zeal to implement and be governed by Sharia system without first making it compatible with American democratic value system, question is how can anyone build new bridges?
Yes, we Americans, Indian and Israelis, etc may be bigoted as are others including 1.4 billion Muslims, moderate or not. Unlike Muslims, we strive to eradicate bigotry.
Note: An estimated up to 40 million Pakistani youth and elders follow fundamentalist ideology promoted by Jamaat -i- Islam (JI) chief cleric Abdul Ala Maududi; Maududi interpretations are closer to Wahabi/Salafi Islam. More than 20,000 madrassahs are operating in the Afpak region for last 4 decades. Pakistan took a turn towards radical fundamentalist Islam for last four decades with constant demands for implementation of Sharia. The Islamic culture promoted by the ruling establishment of moderate Muslims - the BACWAS group of bureaucrats, army, clerics, warlords and scholars, - with feudal attitude have promoted fundamentalism for power grab.
It is Sharia, Stupid!
The Sharia regulates the life of Muslims down to the smallest detail - sex, food, art, business, education, prayer, manners, and speech and how to think and not to think. There is no aspect of life that is outside the power of Sharia - religion, politics, ethics, culture are included. The Sharia is the operating manual for a complete civilization. Muslims claim Islam is complete within it-self and needs nothing from the outside. Islam is a closed society.
The civilization of Sharia is not just different, it contradicts our civilization. Inside Islam justice, religion, politics, law, human rights and compassion do not mean what they mean to us. All of these ideas are based on the principles of submission and duality as found in the Sharia.
Our open society civilization is based on the principles of critical thought, the ideals we strive for can be used for debate and self-criticism to correct and improve our culture. We value the ideals of critical thought, self-criticism, equality of all peoples before the law, freedom of thought and ideas, freedom of religion, public debate, separation of church and state, liberal democracy and a free-ranging humor.
These ideas contradict the Sharia. Sharia law limits critical thought, self-criticism, equality of all peoples before the law, freedom of thought and ideas, freedom of religion, public debate, separation of church and state, liberal democracy and humor.
Part of the genius of Islam is the totality of Sharia, which includes a concept of war that attacks the host civilization at every aspect of its being. In modern times the military power of Islam is weak, but this is more than compensated by its ability to attack along legal and cultural lines as a religion.
Using Sharia, in Afghanistan Taliban destroyed symbols of a Buddhist civilization represented by the Bamiyan Buddhas. The Buddhist history of Afghanistan has been wiped out. Same applies to the history of how Turkey, North Africa, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq went from being Christian to Islamic?
Same was tried but failed against Jews, Zoroashtrians and Hindus. The partition of South Asia is a manument to Muslim claim that they are a separate culture although historically most Muslims of South Asia have Hindu ancestory that Pakistan establishment continues to deny.
Sharia law encourages the annihilation of the past cultures. As time goes on customs, law, art, literature, and ethics of the host culture are replaced by Islamic values under the application of Sharia. The result is that there is nothing left of the history before the implementation of Sharia law.
There is a second aspect of this annihilation - the dhimmitude of the non-Muslims remaining inside Islamic society. If you talk to Zoroastrians, Jews, Hindus and Christians who are left in Islamic countries, they are an abused people who are unable to fight back after centuries of suffering and degradation under Sharia law. They are not supported by Muslims and are left to suffer under the oppression that will eliminate their few numbers. Whatever memory they have of the past is ignored by those who should be defending them.
Partition is a reality in South Asia and allowing proliferation of mosques and madrassas all across America is to go down the Sharia road. South Asia was partitioned in 1947 and Pakistan has opted for an Islamic mono-culture. In a broad sense history teaches that once Sharia is adopted it has always led to an Islamic mono-culture. In the end, there is no such thing as a little Sharia for moderate Muslims.
Notes: "But this is where the world religion-cultures divide. Most Muslims do not accept that historical processes are irreversible. They believe that once land is Dar al-Islam -- the abode of the faithful -- it can never be relinquished. If taken by non-believers, it then becomes Dar al-Harb: the abode of war, and shall remain so until it is restored to Islam. And so Israel has for the past 62 years been Dar al-Harb." Read more: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/kevin-myers-cead-mile-failte-to-hell-mr-israeli-ambassador-2304976.html
The Park Fifty One Interfaith House
A joint multifaith, multinational effort is needed for "Building on Faith" according to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. He stated two fundamental commandments common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam are to love the Lord our creator with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We want to foster a culture of worship authentic to each religious tradition, and also a culture of forging personal bonds across religious traditions. Koran states, "Peace is a word spoken from a merciful Lord."
Comments by leading experts on Islam noted in references dispute claims of Imam Feisal. Imam Feisal"s contentions can be easily tested by asking him to follow in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace in India.
The fundamental commandments cited by Imam Feisal are not necessarily followed by RFM for sure and may be by many moderate Muslims. Many Indians have experienced the wrath of Muslim atrocities before and after partition.
Imam"s pronouncements, in my opinion, may be a malicious misrepresentation of Islam to be politically correct in America to overcome opposition to the Cordoba House project. In Islam there is no love for Kefir neighbors. Islam is very clear about the treatment of non-believers. It is either conversion or death or life in dhimmitude (sub-human existence).
To emphasize interfaith relationships my question to Imam Feisal is why not call the Park 51 project "Interfaith House" for people of book as well as others including Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, etc? By openly promoting such a concept by making Sharia compatible with American value system the promoters of the Interfaith House will conform to American ideals of equality for all under law. Contrary to what RFM professes, we are all American"s first and then a member of any other group including faith. Institutionalized Sharia and similar practices of all faiths for promoting a society and culture of gender and faith based inequalities is inhibited in America.
Contrary to Sharia, American laws are blind to gender and faith based inequalities promoted by Sharia. According to a prominent American Muslim leader, "American value of freedom of religion is not for making a global political statement with a towering Islamic edifice that casts a shadow over the monument of Ground Zero."
Such an Interfaith House should promote tolerance by asking followers and children of different faiths to attend each other"s services periodically so that they learn to build bridges and learn comparative religious practices. In India Mahatma Gandhi had promoted this concept.
The Interfaith House should maintain a library where books from all faiths are available for visitors.
Feedback to author
References & Notes:
2. Mr. Tawfik Hamid suggested that Muslims should emphasize that Quran clearly teaches no one can be punished on account of the others actions. He recommends issuing powerful fatwa against those who might respond to Quran burning with violence against non-Muslims stating those reacting violently are apostates. The fatwa should also state those who attack non-Muslims to seek revenge will be denied burial with Muslims and will go to hell forever. The more Muslims follow this model, the more they can bring peace to the world and more tolerance Muslims show for values of freedom of expression the less others will think of burning the Quran. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703597204575483660273156310.html?KEYWORDS=A+Muslim+Response+to+Quran+Burning
3. Mr Zuhdi Jasser stated that Imam Fauf may not appear to the untrained eye to be an Islamist, but by making Ground Zero an Islamic rather than an American issue he is showing his true allegiance. Moderate Muslims have to demonstrate that they are an American first and a Muslim second. Muslims have to come clean by stating what is best for Americans overall. American moderate Muslims should not ignore the wide global prevalence of theo-political groups like Muslim Brotherhood, or terrorists operatives of al Qaeda co-linked Taliban and many such radical groups based in the Afpak region. American resolve to fight fanatics is against all those responsible for overt and covert strategies that aim to undo American freedoms. Islamists in moderate disguise are still Islamists serving the same aims of the separatists and supremacist wings of political Islam. We can not ignore nonviolent political Islam and militancy it ultimately fuels among the jihadists. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704644404575481882969581708.html?KEYWORDS=Questions+for+Imam+Rauf+From+an+American+Muslim