Muslims & Ground Zero – Fear, Faith and Fairness

Over the last few days I have followed with concern the debate raging over whether Sufi Muslims should be allowed to build a cultural centre near Ground Zero.  The fear, hatred and misinformation that has emerged horrifies me and makes me realize how easily we believe lies that reinforce our worldview.  Hatred breeds violence and we become like the people we despise partly because we are not willing to listen to those who are different from us – be it because of religion, skin colour, age or any other difference.

We live not far from a Muslim mosque that was attacked just after September 11th.  Christians from a couple of local churches actually formed a cordon around the mosque to protect the worshippers.  In gratitude the Muslim community started what has become an annual event – a summer BBQ to thank the neighhourhood for their support.

Partly because of the fond memories this event evokes, and my growing desire to understand the Muslims who live in my own neighbourhood, I have searched for well balanced information from those who are far more conversant with the issues than I am.  The best article I have come across, (at least in my humble opinion) which I want to share with you here, Muslims, Ground Zero, Fear and Fairness was published this morning on the Patheos website.

I sympathize with all those who are afraid of Muslim terrorists. I do not join them in that fear–statistically speaking, Americans are as likely to die in their bathtubs as they are to be killed by terrorists–but I am cursed by empathy, the writer’s ability to see how other people think, live, and love. If I were a New Yorker, perhaps I would also be upset by the news that Sufi Muslims want to build a spiritual center in lower Manhattan, not far from the site of the World Trade Center attacks. Maybe I would think that all Muslims were up to no good, and that their so-called rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of religion should not trump my fear that they might be training terrorists to take down the Chrysler Building.  read the entire article

J.R Woodward also has some links to great articles that respond to this issue.  He has summarized them in his post Choice Blog Entries – Mosques, Hospitality, Ground Zero, Muslims and Wisdom.

So before you form your opinion take so time to listen to what others are saying about this issue and make sure that your conclusions are well informed and in presented in the spirit of love and unity that God desires of us.

9 Responses

  1. I do not believe it is a fear of being attacked by Muslems why most do not want the Mosque or spiritual center there I believe it is because it would be like Alquida and the radical Muslems saying. We struck you first right here now we take this ground from you. Eventually we take over.

    • Bobby,
      There is definitely some truth in that but when the people who are wanting to develop the cultural center are also despised by Alquida and the Taliban I think that allowing this could also go a long way to diffusing some of the hostility from more moderate Muslims

  2. Christine, thank you for your thoughtfulness, and the story you share.
    Unfortunately, when I passed this along, one person talked about the “eye-opening video.” When I inquired, I was told it was THE STRATEGY BEHIND THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE, in the automatically-generated links at the bottom.

  3. Hi Christine,
    I am definitely torn both ways on this issue. As a Christian, I certainly believe we need to extend tolerance to all people, but I’m not sure this also includes all organisations.

    Islam has at its core, a mandate for world evangelism, and since it is still rooted in its 7th Century mindset, sees physical force as acceptable. Since Islam doesn’t operate in the Western mindset of right and wrong, but rather in the Eastern mindset of honour and shame, we have huge difficulties understanding each other.

    I wonder if Saudi Arabia would allow a Christian organisation to build a large structure a few blocks from their holy sites in Mecca or Medina? Actually, I am sure they would not allow this.

    • Brian,
      Like you I am torn. However as I watch fundamentalist Muslims who are out to evangelize the world (a small proportion of all Muslims from what I have read) I wonder is this any different from evangelical Christians wanting to evangelize the world and is Christian world evangelization really any more acceptable

  4. The big difference is that the Islamic fundamentalists are VERY well funded, absolutely intolerant of any view except their own, and believe that the end justifies any means. Islam doesn’t hold to the same sanctity of life beliefs held in the West, since life is transient and doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of things. With this world view alone, terrorist actions are justified means. Even if a fellow Muslim is killed, its all for the cause, and he (only men are considered) will get 70 virgins as a reward for being killed in the action.

    If you can get hold of it, read “Mosques and Miracles” by Stuart Robertson for a very good discussion on the differences in world views between Islam and Christianity.

  5. Brian \
    I am not familiar with Stuart Robertson’s book and I do know that there are a lot of differences between Christian and Muslim world view. However living in a country where Christian faith and support of the NRA go hand in hand I do question that Western Christians always have a healthier view of the sanctity of life and I know many Muslims who are just as concerned about the sanctity of life as my Christian sisters and brothers are.
    Maybe I am a cynic but it seems to me at times that there is little that separates Christian and Islamic fundamentalists in terms of their worldview. Christian fundamentalists can be just as intolerant of other world views and they too often believe that the ends justify the means – hence the killing of doctors who perform abortions and the invasion of Iraq with the full support of followers of Christ because Bush was seen as a “Christian” leader. For many fundamentalist Muslims this was equated with the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Here is an interesting and very sobering article that shows how easily our actions can be misinterpreted.'christian_crusade'_in_afghanistan/?page=entire

  6. Hi Christine,
    Yep, got to agree with you about the NRA and fundamental Christian beliefs. I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t complain if the 67 book of the Bible was the NRA handbook.

    Your AlterNet story about how easily things are misinterpreted reminds me of a time on the ship in Africa (don’t recall if you were there or not). The locals were struck by how happy all the crew were, and the only difference they could determine was the big Jiffy Mugs we were all carrying – so there must be some “happy juice” we were drinking.

  7. Brian,
    Great story I don’t remember that.

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