Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Founding Fathers say YES to mosques

Juan Cole has a great post pointing out the ignorance of this movement. He specifically addresses Sarah Palin, and others, who have recently come out against mosques in the U.S, specifically the proposed mosque at Ground Zero.
A tiny fringe cult destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, not Islam in general (a religion of 1.5 billion human beings which could well be the religion of 3 billion human beings by mid-century). A monument to Usama Bin Laden or al-Qaeda would be in poor taste. A mosque, built anywhere in the United States, is not.

The classical Islamic law of war forbids sneak attacks. It forbids the killing of non-combatants. It forbids the killing of women and children. War is a collective duty declared by the duly constituted authorities, not an individual duty, and so not just any Ahmed or Moustafa can wake up in the morning and declare war on, say, Europe. See Khaled Abou El Fadl.

Al-Qaeda cultists reject these principles of Islamic law and they have been roundly condemned for doing so by all the major Muslim authorities– the rector of Al-Azhar Seminary in Egypt, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq, television preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Qatar, Tahir al-Qadri in Pakistan, etc., etc., etc.

Finally, forbidding the building of a mosque in New York is inconsistent with the ideals of the Founding Generation of the United States of America, who explicitly mentioned Islam among the cases when they spoke of religious freedom.
I recommend reading his entire post, as he cites the founding fathers who speak about freedom of religion, specifically regarding Muslims. Cole closes on a powerful note:
The September 11 attacks were not the work of a foreign head of state supported by his state religion. No Muslim government supports al-Qaeda. But even if the attacks had been of that sort, the Founding Generation had already made a key distinction between religious practice and political loyalty.

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