Monday, August 30, 2010

Mosque Madness

I simply will not remain silent any more about the “proposed mosque” near the World Trade Center site. The sheer volume of misinformation, the volume of the sheer misinformation and the misinformed voluminous sheer determination to perpetuate misinformation presses me to speak. The following is my own view, my own opinion and my own rant.

The building site in question is two full blocks away from the WTC site. Have you walked the blocks of Manhattan? How many buildings and businesses occupy those two full blocks? How many people would you pass walking those two blocks? Count ‘em…two. full. blocks. It is not overseeing, not adjoining, not connected to the WTC site. It is near, yes, but not a part of the WTC site.

Let me start with one basic premise; in my humble opinion, using this site as a Muslim prayer room, so close to the WTC tragedy is another tragedy waiting to happen. I fear every crazy loon on the planet will target it as their claim to some insane and bizarre attempt for justice. Christian, Islamic and maybe even Jewish extremists will view it the same way the murderous lunatics of 9/11 viewed the World Trade Center Towers. Security alone for this project will likely create a nightmare for the new owners.

But now, let me transition to the true heart of my thoughts…

The building site in question was formerly occupied by a Burlington Coat Factory Store. On September 11, 2001 this building was struck by a chunk of landing gear from one of the hijacked planes. The building was rendered irreparable by that moment and has remained abandoned since. To my knowledge, no church has looked into creating a memorial there. No charitable organization has proffered enough money to purchase it. Until a local mosque showed up to turn it into a prayer room connected to what happened on 9/11, this building was a Burlington Coat Factory store. When the local mosque offered to buy it, it was sold; that’s the American free market system in full operation.

Imam Feisal who leads the local mosque in question (which has been in this neighborhood for several years previous) has been in the employment of the United States government since the George W. Bush administration. He was hired by them to represent the U.S.A. in Islamic countries as a loyal, peace loving citizen of our nation. The Bush administration, no doubt, saw this man’s potential of giving our nation an intellectual, understanding face with which civilized Muslim people could relate. Feisal’s stated goal is, “We want to push back against the extremists”.

His wife, Daisy Khan, was invited to sit on an advisory board overseeing the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum to assist in memorializing the heart wrenching events of 9/11. Again, for the record, both of them have been serving us since 9/11/01. They are not recent employees of the current president; they were contracted by the State Department and the F.B.I. under the charge of our previous, Republican president, George W. Bush. In fact, the F.B.I. has publically stated that their work with Imam Feisel has been, “positive”.

Imam Feisal has been complemented by a neighboring rabbi, Arthur Schneier, who said that the Imam was a man of “like heartedness” to him (the rabbi). Additionally, the presence of the Muslim community in New York City is a well documented historic fact. The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg (a Republican), is fully supportive of this Muslim physical presence in the former Burlington Coat Factory building because, he thinks it is a restorative gesture. I think that is, at least, a reasonable thought.

Now, it seems to me, that when we look at this proposed Islamic prayer site, two blocks away from the WTC site, we should, at the very least, try and understand the true simplicity of this transaction. All mystery, of any nature, should first be processed in simplicity.

My thought is, maybe, just maybe, this is no more than the desire of genuine, American Muslims to make something good of the terrible events of that terrible day. Since this former Burlington Coat Factory Store was damaged by a piece of one of the hijacked planes, perhaps the thought is that this building is a natural physical point of reference for prayer for healing. Maybe good people want to do something good as a small gesture of reparation for an awful act of cowards. Is that at least possible? I think it is and until proven otherwise, it ought to be given an equal chance to stand or fall on its own merits.

I have gone on record for years, publically wondering why no reasonable Muslim leader was pressing for attention to bravely right the public record of Islam’s supposed peace loving nature. I think now I have seen one reason why civil Muslim leaders have stayed quiet; they get threatened by some of their own followers and have their character assassinated by the loud misinformed masses outside of Islam. Lose, lose…

I am, in no way, a defender of the Islamic religion. I am completely, thoroughly and resoundingly an adoring believer of and in Jesus Christ, Lord of all. That being said, I know that Jesus said, “Love your enemies…” and He said, “…do not resist him who is evil, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also”.

Remember, I said in the third paragraph I think this project is a security nightmare. For instance, you won’t find me building a Christian house of prayer in Mecca any time soon. However, as a Christian, I believe we should let this project stand or fall on its own merits. If they are, as some suspect, seeking to pour salt in our national wounds, their own evil will be their undoing. But if they are simply seeking some gesture to heal our wounds, why, in the name of all that is pure and holy, would we resist such an act of potential decency?

Start with the truth. Let all your opinions be rooted there. However, if you start with your opinion and look only for the truth that supports your view, you will miss the greater beauty of truth that could make you free. Always start with the truth, even if it is uncomplimentary to your opinion.

I do not like or agree with the Islamic religion and the practice of the Muslim faith. That is my opinion. In the case of this building project near the ground made hallowed by the blood of innocent victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, the truth might be that Muslims are attempting to do something spiritually and lovingly restorative. If that is the truth, and it seems reasonable to me that it is, then I will start there, even though it might cause me to admire an Imam with whom I have enormous religious differences.

If the Imam and all Muslims simply want me and all who disagree with them dead, how is that any different from the goals of Rome and the major religionists of Jesus’ day? How did their blood thirsty, terroristic pursuit work for them? Isn’t the world’s largest Christian denomination today headquartered in Rome?

Wasn’t the story of Saul, who was a religious leader and avowed enemy of Christians, about a man who was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples…and asked for letters to bind women and children” (Acts 9:1,2)? Didn’t that turn out to be one of the most significant miracles of the infancy of Christianity?

As I said at the top of this blog, these words are just my own opinion. When I first heard about a mosque on the WTC site, I reacted negatively, like many people did and still do. So I searched for truth...and my opinion changed when the light of truth weighed in on my views. I hope you'll join me, at least, in the pursuit of truth.