Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, has started writing and speaking about his project. When I heard about the man and read he was a “Sufi” Muslim, I had wondered how a Sufi could make such explosive political statements as “Osama bin Laden was made in USA,” US “was accessory to the crimes” of 9/11 or “that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.”
For starters, Sufi Muslims are apolitical and pacifists and they hate confrontations of any kind. A prominent Sufi Muslim and scholar Dr. Alan Godlas says “the Sufi surrenders to God, in love, over and over; which involves embracing with love at each moment the content of one’s consciousness (one’s perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, as well as one’s sense of self) as gifts of God or, more precisely, as manifestations of God.” Sufi Muslims live a busy life of meditation. They care about God and abhor drawing any attention to themselves. Imam Abdul Rauf lacks traditional Sufi traits because he draws attention to himself, most notably, taking credit for President Obama’s speech in Cairo. You can hear him here.
Sufi Muslims hate a confrontation of any kind yet this Imam wrote in the New York Times, “We are proceeding with the community center, Cordoba House. More important, we are doing so with the support of the downtown community, government at all levels and leaders from across the religious spectrum, who will be our partners.” Sufi Muslims are humble. They listen to concerns of people who disagree with them. Has this Imam considered the voices of 911 families? Most of them are definitely opposed to his project. Why is he so confrontational and defiant? A Sufi wouldn’t have come this far offending people.
He continued, “The very word “islam” comes from a word cognate to shalom, which means peace in Hebrew. The Koran declares in its 36th chapter, regarded by the Prophet Muhammad as the heart of the Koran, in a verse deemed the heart of this chapter, “Peace is a word spoken from a merciful Lord.”” This is verse 58 of chapter 36 and refers to Muslims in paradise. Imam Abdul Rauf is really good at misleading the public. He quotes a verse, which to unsuspecting non-Muslims sound really reassuring but very frightening if they actually know what it means. This is a very important chapter in Islam and it is recited for the dead or those close to death. Verses 59 to 63 are about unbelievers (those who did not believe Prophet Muhammad’s message: Christians, Jews, etc) in hell. The chapter was revealed in Mecca when Islam was in its nascent stage. At that time, alcohol and pork were halal (permissible to Muslims). Prophet Muhammad had only one wife. Wife beating was unheard of. Islam was about peace because Muslims were minority and were being persecuted.
Fast-forward to Qur’an chapters revealed later in Medina. The definition of Islam was established and it means “submission” or “surrender.” Muslim scholars who translated the Qur’an translated “Islam” as “submission” or “surrender.” “Muslims,” followers of Islam are “the submitted/surrendered.” All translations of the Qur’an have “Islam” as “submission.” Muslims would have objected had there been problems with these translations. I am pretty sure the translation of the Qur’an Imam Abdul Rauf used for his quote contains a similar definition for “Islam.” Qur’an, 3:19, “The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will): Nor did the People of the Book dissent there from except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them. But if any deny the Signs of Allah, Allah is swift in calling to account.” In the same chapter, verse 85, “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).” Where did Imam Abdul Rauf get “Islam” means “peace”? Perhaps he is exercising Tauriyya (deliberate lying which is permitted in Islam). Where did he get his message of “inclusiveness” in the Qur’an, where Allah has had an unequivocal message in the latter revelations and Prophet Muhammad carried out his message? I bet he is among majority of Muslims who are ashamed of publicly defending Islam because it is what manifests itself publicly. Most present-day Muslims practice Islam of pre-622 A.D. where none of these Islamic tenets was in place: shahada (creed), fasting during the month of Ramadhan, pilgrimage to Mecca, zakkat and Muslims faced (qibla) the Jewish temple in Jerusalem for the daily prayers.
Here is the climax of his misleading statements. He claimed “moving the project to another location would strengthen Islamist radicals’ ability to recruit followers and will increase violence against Americans.” The sad thing with this statement, most Muslims consider Sufism—a sect that Imam Abdul Rauf claims to be affiliated with—as bidah (innovations). Radical Muslims kill Sufis. Since when has there been an alliance of all Muslims? Here is a story out of Pakistani where Muslims killed 42 Sufis in July this year. So much for moving a location of a Sufi mosque in the United States increasing “violence against Americans.” Maybe radical Muslims know he is not a Sufi!
Imam Abdul Rauf also has close ties to the former Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who even some Malaysian leaders consider racist because of his views on his Malay ethnic group he considers superior to other Malaysians. Imam Abdul Rauf still associates with Dr Mohamad and has not publicly repudiated him for his stance.
Imam Abdul Rauf has some explaining to do with this statement unfitting of a Sufi Muslim:
For my fellow Arabs I have the following special message: Learn from the example of the Prophet Mohammed, your greatest historical personality. After a state of war with the Meccan unbelievers that lasted for many years, he acceded, in the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, to demands that his closest companions considered utterly humiliating. Yet peace turned out to be a most effective weapon against the unbelievers.
A Sufi Muslim does not take the words of Allah or Prophet Muhammad literally when interpreting the Qur’an or Hadith respectively. Imam Abdul Rauf does. In a letter to the New York Times in 1977, he reminded his “fellow Arabs” (Where is the inclusiveness?) in Palestine what Prophet Muhammad did in order to conquer Mecca. He did not recant his views when Wall Street Journal contacted him a week ago.
In the letter he was “referring to a treaty in the year 628 that established a 10-year truce between the Prophet Muhammad and Meccan leaders and was viewed by Muslims at the time as a defeat. But Muhammad used that period to consolidate his ranks and re-arm, eventually leading to his conquest of Mecca. Imam Rauf seems to be saying that Muslims should understand Sadat’s [Egyptian President] olive branch in the same way, as a short-term respite leading to ultimate conquest.” [Bracket Mine.]
Imam Abdul Rauf is among many prominent Muslims who deliberately mislead non-Muslims about Islamic teachings. For example, members of the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association hosted a panel discussion last week. One panelist, Dr. Azizan Al-Hibri, “lamented the false information that she says is fueling American ignorance about Islam. She claimed, “The Koran is a freeing document that even incorporates the principles of the First Amendment.” She went further to say, “Historically Islamic communities have practiced religious tolerance. This is nothing new. It did not start with the United States.”
Dr. Al-Hibri “continued by suggesting that it is fathomable that the Founding Fathers, specifically Thomas Jefferson, took into account some of the principles in the Koran when they were building the legal framework for the United States.” She referred to verse 256 of the Qur’an in Suratul Al-Baqara claiming, “there is no compulsion in religion — that is the freedom of action.”
Dr. Al-Hibri does not tell her audience that this verse (most Muslims quote to show how Islam is about religious freedom) was abrogated. It was revealed in Medina when Prophet Muhammad had just migrated from Mecca. Tafsir (Islamic scholar’s interpretations) show this verse was revealed to Muhammad when the Ansar—Arabs of Medina who had embraced Islam—tried to convert their sons to Islam by force. Later, when two Muslims apostatized and Prophet Muhammad heard about their apostasy, he recited the same verse and also said, “’May Allah banish both of them. They are the first to disbelieve.’”
The first Muslims who apostatized were treated well. They had religious freedom because Prophet Muhammad had no military power to force them revert to Islam or be killed. This is proof the verse most Muslim scholars quote to tout Islam’s provision for religious freedom has been abrogated because later Prophet Muhammad required non-Muslims to embrace Islam and established the law of apostasy that requires the death of apostates. Why would prominent Muslim scholars and organizations mislead the public?
Imam Abdul Rauf strives to modernize Islam. His Asma Society’s Shariah Project, “requires a nation to care for its citizens’ welfare, provide religious freedom, offer educational opportunities, protect minorities, and allow citizens to participate in their own governance.
He knows Shariah Law and religious freedom is an oxymoron. He doesn’t want the public to know. Why would he try his pilot project in the United States while he can do the same in Saudi Arabic where, even minority Muslim sects, let alone non-Muslims, have no religious freedom? He should travel the Muslim world and lecture on protecting “minority rights.” He should take his “education opportunities” to Afghanistan where Taliban has been destroying schools and killing children. No Islamic country, a country governed through Shariah Law, has allowed its “citizens to participate in their own governance.”
Imam Abdul Rauf is trying to modernize Islam and exercising Tauriyya. Here is the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordan on Islamic modernism:
Islamic modernism is a reform movement started by politically-minded urbanites with scant knowledge of traditional Islam. These people had witnessed and studied Western technology and socio-political ideas, and realized that the Islamic world was being left behind technologically by the West and had become too weak to stand up to it. They blamed this weakness on what they saw as ’traditional Islam,’ which they thought held them back and was not ’progressive’ enough. They thus called for a complete overhaul of Islam, including—or rather in particular—Islamic law (sharia) and doctrine (aqida). Islamic modernism remains popularly an object of derision and ridicule, and is scorned by traditional Muslims and fundamentalists alike.
Muslims have every right to build mosques in the United States. However, I am concerned about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and the proposed location of his “community center.” His recent statements show he knows Islamic teachings but he is exercising Tauriya. There is no such thing in authentic Islam as what he is trying to achieve. His public statements have made it very evident he is not a Sufi Muslim. He has been using Sufism as a cover. This man knows very well no one who embraces the Qur’an’s teachings and adheres to Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and deeds can build a bridge with people who believe in human rights and religious freedom. He doesn’t believe in these ideals, just maximizing them to advance his cause of spreading Islam in the West. In the words of a prominent Muslim scholar who, unlike Imam Abdul Rauf, is unashamed of Islamic teachings, “‘Democracy, freedom, and human rights have no place’ in Islam.”