So, a lot is being said about a mosque that someone wants to build on Ground Zero. Although we, this blogosphere community, do not believe in moral authoritah – truth is truth (“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24)) – I suppose I have some things to say from my studies and experience.
1. Comparing building a mosque on Ground Zero is not equivalent to building a synagogue in Makkah. The reason is that Makkah (indeed, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) has laws in place banning such places of worship. No such laws exist in New York City. Furthermore, Ground Zero is not a qiblah (direction of prayer, perhaps more metaphysically understood as an axis mundi).
The closest comparison is building a Serbian Orthodox church in Srebrenica.
2. However, the plans to build the mosque at Ground Zero is absolutely reprehensible and, frankly, can be construed as un-Islamic. (I should disclose that I am, technically, a mureed or follower of Mowlana Shaykh Muhammad Nizam ‘Adil al-Haqqani (qaddasa-llaahi sirrahu), the leader of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi Order. He teaches a form of Islam that is very different from what we usually encounter – I will weave some of his perspectives below.
Let me explain. What is this proposal doing? It is causing immense negative publicity for Muslims. What strides certain Muslims groups have made in building relationships of trust, bridges of understanding, have been made futile with these acts. It is causing unrest and, verily, chaos, in other words, it is causing fitnah. And what does the Qur’an say? “Al-fitnatu akbaru mina-l-qatl” (2:217), “Fitnah is worse than killing.” So what these Muslims are doing is worse than killing because it’s causing unrest and chaos. From the perspective of Muslims, these Muslims are defaming and desecrating Islam, and are besmirching the honor of Islam. Such acts are utterly un-Islamic. (By the way – if the sentence according to sharee’ah for murderers (who do qatl) is execution, what should the punishment be for those who spread fitnah? The logical conclusion comes to only one decision.)
Now, make no mistake. It is more likely than not that the people behind this mosque believe Muslims have nothing to do with the acts of September 11, 2001. This is their attempt to assert their innocence – to prevent Ground Zero from commemorating Islamist terrorism.
3. Furthermore, Muslims cannot ram “freedom of religion” down our throats without accepting its full consequences that impact Muslims. Thus, they loose all right to demand the banning of blasphemy against Muhammad b. ‘Abdillaah, the prophet-founder of Islam. If they want to use the freedom of religion to build a mosque, others may use their freedom of religion to mock Muhammad b. ‘Abdillaah.
Mowlana Shaykh Hisham al-Kabbani, Mowlana Shaykh Nazim’s khaleefah or representative in the United States, has stated that most Islamic institutions in the United States are run by the Salafiyoon (fundamentalist radicals). I think this issue demonstrates this. Do not accept any innocence feigned by these causers of fitnah. Every self-respecting Muslim would denounce them. Every wise non-Muslim would tell them to drop their plans.
What grounds do we have?
1. Security. I guarantee – guarantee – that this mosque will be attacked or vandalized. This desecration of Ground Zero – sanctified by the blood of thousands of martyrs – will not go unnoticed. Of course, the Muslims will point that out as another sign of Western intolerance and will undoubtedly pin it as a conspiracy by Fox News and its ilk.
2. Decency. If the Muslims expect to make any progress in the United States, they must play by the rules that will win them friends. Their tactics in Europe – asserting their cultural and religious rights – won’t work here. It wins no friends. And thus the Muslims’ relations with the non-Muslims will worsen. Even if we are intolerant, the way to overcome our intolerance is to befriend us, not offend or attack us (figuratively or literally).
3. Need. There is no need for a mosque. Really, mosques are conveniences, not necessities. Catholics usually need certain accouterments in order to celebrate the Mystery of the Mass (altar (for which there are specific regulations, including the implantation of a first-class relic), crucifix). Jews, same thing (Torah, bimah, aron hakodesh). All Muslims need is a clean area and maybe a rug. A group of Muslims can (and do) gather in a room to pray. When they wanted to make a prayer room for Muslims at my alma mater, they didn’t erect a separate building. They just had a room where there were some books (Qur’an, etc.) and a chair or two. That’s it. There is nothing that makes a mosque a necessity, let alone necessary on Ground Zero.
As Muslims as fond of saying – just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. Oh, how the tables have turned.