Who is Feisal Abdul Rauf?
At the time of this writing the debate about the now world-famous planned
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the mastermind behind the plan to build a $100 million mosque and Islamic centre near the spot where nearly 3000 were murdered on 9/11. He presents himself as a moderate who wants to build bridges to non-Muslims, and he reasons that building this mosque would serve that purpose.
In a letter to Mike Huckabee, the group behind this planned mosque wrote that this is ?a project to honor those who were harmed on September 11. It is a project to proclaim our patriotism to this country and to stand side-by-side all men and women of peace.?
A Not-so-Veiled Threat
The problem that Rauf, the main spokesperson for this project, encountered is that a large majority of the American public is not persuaded. He has warned that if the opponents would win the day - stopping this building project - that would send a message to the Muslim world that
This is why Americans must not back away from completion of this project. If we do, we cede the discourse and, essentially, our future to radicals on both sides. The paradigm of a clash between the West and the Muslim world will continue, as it has in recent decades at terrible cost. It is a paradigm we must shift.
His calculated language, intended to convey that he himself does not favour terrorism, still gets this message across: If you do not allow us to go ahead with this project, Muslims will have just reasons to step up terrorist attacks on
What kind of threat is that? What are we missing in this most open and tolerant country where the authorities have gone out of their way to accommodate the demands of Muslim organizations. Where billions of dollars have been spent to prevent future terrorist attacks; where new plots continue to be uncovered; where honour killings still occur; where 13 soldiers were killed by a Muslim officer who betrayed his pledge of allegiance to the country he promised to serve; where some need full-time body guard protection against Islamist terrorists. Others are told by the FBI that it is helpless to protect them if they are targeted by a fatwa that gives Muslims the ?right? to kill American citizens. This list goes on.
The Missing Context
In my view what is missing in Rauf?s reasoning is context. The real context here is the clash of civilizations that is poorly understood in the tolerant, now largely secular West. Many among the media, academic, and political elite do not take seriously the reality that all over the Muslim world, and now in many mosques and other places of learning in the West, radical imams spout an unrelenting message of hatred toward the infidels, especially the Great Satan.
How does a man like Rauf, a cleric born in
What does this kind of verbiage really mean? To figure that out you need to understand this in the context of his many other statements.
Rauf has claimed that ?
In June 2009, Rauf wrote in support of the 1979 revolution in
Vilayet-i-faqih means ?the guardianship of the jurist,? meaning that the imams are acting in the name of Allah and serving as guardians of the people. This idea makes clear that Islam is not just a religion but also a political ideology. Wherever this unholy merger exists, there is certain to be no freedom, as in
Unravelling Orwellian Doublespeak
Although Rauf claims that Islam and American democracy are compatible, his endorsement of the totalitarian regime founded by Khomeini puts him squarely on the side of those who are determined to change America into a sharia-friendly country. In an article for the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad, entitled ?Sharing the Essence of our Beliefs? he explains why Islamic movements with political agendas carry religious names, such as Muslim Brotherhood.
?I answer them this?that the trends towards Islamic law and justice begins in religious movements, because secularism has failed to deliver what the Muslim wants, which is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?. The only law that the Muslim needs exists already in the Koran and the Hadith.? Elsewhere Rauf acknowledges the all-inclusive character of Islam:
The Shari?ah thus covers every field of law ? public and private, national and international ? together with enormous amounts of material that Westerners would not regard as law at all, because the basis of the Shari?ah is the worship of, and obedience to, God through good works and moral behavior. (See Ibn Warraq, ?The Two Faces of Feisal Rauf,? National Review OnLine,
Rauf wants to have it both ways: claim that Islam is compatible with American law, and then argue that the Koran and the Hadith cover every field of law and are therefore superior to all man-made law. Logic and history tells us that these two positions are irreconcilable. This is not just some harmless academic debate, but at stake is the difference between a free and open society and one in which religious fanaticism sets the tone ? with momentous implications for entire nations.
To make a totalitarian society look attractive, it needs to be presented as something it is not. This is what Rauf is doing in his tireless efforts to ?bridge the gap? between the free West and one ruled by Islamic law. Those are not the actions of a bridge builder and a truth speaker, despite the New York Times? claim that Rauf has spent a life time trying to ?reconcile Islam with
We are still left with a huge conundrum: Why would the U.S. State Department entrust this man to represent
Such a claim gives a whole new slant to the presidential oath of office, especially considering the absolutist claims of Islam about the relationship between religion and politics.