This could be also a Letter to the Islamic Nation, Islam of the world. That world of Islam is not bounded by borders, neither a country, a part of a country or an area, but boundless, encompassing the world. One Caliphate, one World Leader, for everyone, Sharia and Islamic Law is the objective. When all the world is for Allah and Allah alone, then the state of all world affairs will be aligned, as Islamists suggest, in the purist fashion. The world will be in harmony and peace will prevail worldwide. The 5 Pillars of Islam, the 5 Beliefs of Islam will prevail for Allah. But will that in truth be the case?
An American Muslim
Dear Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf:
You are an American. Your wife is an American. You appreciate and celebrate American freedom, lifestyle, values, success, capitalism and world leadership. You live in the sanctity of the melting pot of religious and human freedom, protected by a government whose powers are limited to the Constitution and the voting citizens. You regard the Constitution as expressing constraints as if the Quran itself were consulted. For a Country with many Christians, as many Jews as Muslims, you consider yourself and all Muslims a member of the Abrahamic religions and, using the Bible as a guide, proclaim a love of neighbor, a tolerance for others and their beliefs, as one would love themselves. But still you are a Muslim and the Quran is your guide.
A major difference flows from the loins of Abraham and the birth mother of each religion. Hagar was Ishmael’s mother, Abram the father (prior to God changing his name), and the child was born not of Abram’s wife Sarai (before God changed her name). Would there be consequences today under Sharia for such a set of circumstances. Ishmael is regarded as the leader of the nations of the Arab and Islamic world. Settled originally in the peninsula south of Israel and to the areas east of Jerusalem, countries that today include Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and others, Ishmael’s offspring grew to form many tribes. You note in your book (What is Right with Islam) that Abraham and Ishmael built the Ka’ba in today’s Mecca. I can only assume, from what you wrote, they located the meteoric rock that has been housed in the structure in the desert sands and used it as an altar or object of worship, constructing the Ka’ba to house the black rock.
Abraham (after God changed his name – from Abram – Gen. 17) had another child, after Ishmael, Isaac, conceived with his wife Sarah (after God changed her name – Gen. 17). God assured Abraham and Sarah their child would be given the promise of God, a covenant, and that he would be a leader of nations. His seed would be the seed of descendents that would also receive the covenant, the promise of God. Sarah was told she would be the mother of great nations. Ishmael was only blessed, a blessing from God. The seed of Isaac can be traced to Jesus, considered by Muslims a great prophet, and by Christians incarnate, human and divine, God in the flesh, the Bible, the Word of God living and representing truth. Jesus is also the Christ, the Messiah and God. God in the flesh came to earth and lived among men as an example for every one of living a perfect life. He also was the sacrificial lamb that made possible Salvation for all who believe in the Resurrection and the Risen Lord. The lineage of Muslims is different. Ishmael was the child of Abram and an adulterous affair with his wife’s maidservant. God at the time did not suggest multiple wives (and has never suggested polygamy) to Abraham, respecting the covenant of marriage as monogamous. God informed Hagar when she was pregnant that, “you will have a child,…a son. You shall name him Ishmael….His hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” (Genesis 16:11-12).
God promised to bless Sarah so that she will be the “mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” (Gen. 17:16) As to the son Isaac, God clearly stated, “I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” (Gen. 17:19) God promised to make Ishmael fruitful, to have many descendents (numbers), the father of 12 rulers and a great nation, but he was not the recipient of God’s covenant; God’s blessing yes. Isaac received the covenant (Gen 17:21). The differences are clear. Romans 9 provides some additional insight, the inspired word saying “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” (v. 7-8).
You have positioned yourself as a leader of a pluralistic culture, yet you hold on to your Islamic ideology. Have you not considered that the truth may not be what is written in the Quran? The corrected copy of the Word of God may in fact be the written desires of the prophet Muhammad and his Companions having completed and agreed upon the contents of the Quran many years after Muhammad’s death. The Quran may not be a correction at all, but a deception. How can the God of Abraham allow for any changes; he is unchangeable. Sura 10:94, makes the point, if in doubt as to that which is revealed to Muslims, “ask those who read the Book (the Bible) before thee. Certainly the Truth has come to thee from thy Lord…”
“The Lord will judge his people.” (1 Samuel 2:10). Who judges the errors of man. Is it God, humans, or government? Is it a combination? If a combination is it the right of any human to take the place of God, substitute himself for God, in judging the crimes against God. Or is God the ‘true’ judge of the actions of man? Who knows the mind and heart of man better than God? “Let the Lord judge the peoples. Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity…” (Psalm 7:8) God judges.
I do not understand Sharia Law or Islamic Law as applied to crimes against Allah. If Allah is God, is not God the judge and then how can any man, Muslim, Imam, Caliph, take God’s job. Is man not casting the ‘stone’ and can any man possibly assume such a role? Find a Muslim whose good out-weighs evil, whose heart is as exposed as his outward actions, whose mind, desires, wants and selfish needs are as known as his apparent goodness. Only God knows the godliness of man – Muslim, Jew, Christian or other. How can you, as Imam, a citizen of America judge the godliness of man and impart punishment. I am focused on punishments for adultery, apostacy, marriage outside the religion, differences in judging men vs. women, observing prayer, dress, make-up, the wearing of undergarments, and the like. What is your right?
“God is a righteous judge.” Would you agree with this statement from Psalm 7:11? Can any human be a righteous judge? God “will judge the people with equity.” (Psalm 96:10). That suggests fairness towards all, men and women, the poor and the wealthy. And God will judge “the peoples in truth.” (Psalm 96:13). Can a God that deceives, as Allah says he is the best deceiver (Sura 3:54) be expected to judge in ‘truth?’ The brother of Jesus, James, says it well also, (James 4:12), “There is only one Lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Laws must be left to civil authorities not to religious leaders, not to an ideology hidden in the pages of a religious guide-book, not in the Quran. The civil authorities may be in error in their judgment, and then it is for God to decide – Judgment Day. This would suggest, God alone suggests, a separation between church and state. The spiritual may influence the temporal, but the temporal should be the overriding consideration. Let those in authority judge not in the name of God. Government, the State, is to provide security, safety so that the freedoms you enjoy in America, including the freedom of religion (religion that does not impose its will on others) is preserved.
Even those that believe in no God at all, the atheists, have every right to be free. Those who do not believe in God, in Christ, in Allah, in their respective god, or in no god at all, must be left free, free to be judged by God on their Day of Judgment. What right has man to intervene? Man can suggest the path they believe as the right path, but not promote ‘hate’ or suggest ‘death to the infidel’, the infidel that does not believe as you do. What right have you to so judge?
Is there more evil in Sharia Law than goodness? By virtue of the fact that Sharia places a sword, a whip, a stone, and today, bombs, rifles, AK47’s, in the hands of Muslims for use to defend their religion, not freedom, but the right to judge others who do not accept Allah, doesn’t that defeat your concept of a pluralistic society? Is it right to smite another, removing head or hand, in the name of Allah? (Sura 8:12) Should anyone “cast terror into the heart of those who disbelieve” (as your Quran suggests)(Sura 8:12)
Is ‘practicing the faith of Islam’ using Sharia to impose punishment that is Allah’s? Does that not place man in a position of unbridled power to act in the name of Allah, whether that is what God would desire or not? Are you comfortable with such judgment when it includes judgment against those who do not subscribe to Allah being for All? Are you comfortable when such judgment is m0re reflective of the desires of the person, the power used for gains of authority, imposing judgment and punishment to advance their purposes, in the name of Allah and for the benefit of Islam, when that is not the true reason. How do you distinguish?
The terrorist acts against America at the World Trade Center, terrorist acts on the USS Cole and the Pentagon, terrorist acts blowing up the passenger train in Spain and the bus in Great Britain, terrorists acts on busses and pizza parlors in Israel and many more, were committed, not by fanatics, but by followers of the Islamic faith. Those committing the tragic destructive inhumane violent crimes were taught in madrassas, learned from the mullahs in mosques, and had ingrained in them from their culture that hating the West and rising up against those who do not share in obedience to Allah are to be destroyed. Is this not your Islam too? They made a call to Allah just prior to their act of destruction and mayhem.
If you believe in a pluralistic society are you then not a Muslim? Would you require a jizyah tax for those not Muslim? Why can’t you be honest and suggest either a New Quran for mainstream Muslims to adopt or change your religion? Why remain Muslim? How can an American Muslim be different from an Iraqi Muslim or a Saudi Muslim or a Sudanese Muslim or a Pakistani Muslim or a Turkish Muslim? Is the rest of Islam in error and you are correct?
When Christians acted in the name of God to commit evil acts against other humans, they were in error. They used God as a cover. God is good. They substituted themselves and their personal desires for God. Does Islam suggest such a path, as an operative under the cover of Allah to kill infidels, to accept the spoils of war, to deceive non-believers, to fight until All is for Allah, as a way of life? Evil deeds committed to advance Islam, until all is for Allah, is permitted. Killing another human being is evil; encouraging another person to blow themselves up in the name of Allah is evil. Intransigent intolerance is evil. Suicide, whether in the name of Allah or not, is wrong. Stoning a person for adultery by a group of individuals is wrong. Suggesting two women equal the witness of one man is wrong; it is not equal godly judgment. Promoting ‘hate’ is wrong and evil. Suggesting ambush of infidels is evil. Lying in wait to ambush anyone is evil. Openly espousing deceit to achieve a religious objective is evil. Fighting until the world is All for Allah is the commission of all who are followers of the messenger Muhammad, accepting of his dictates and the words transcribed into the Quran and his diary and sayings. Is this not also your GPS.
Your objectivity and desire for fairness is welcomed. Are you being honest in your rhetoric? How does a non-Muslim know when the truth is being told by a Muslim to an audience of non-believers? How can the Quran be so open about the role a Muslim can play towards a non-believer, faking a friendship, being outwardly accommodating and inwardly hateful, being ready to take control, making inroads with patience into the land of infidels, and then suggesting destruction to those who are not accepting of Allah? When and how are we to know, to believe, to accept the affirmations of a Muslim? We do so as a loving neighbor, yet if we Understand Islam, we must be on-guard and skeptical.
As a Christian I pray for a great awakening in the hearts of all people, Jews, Muslims, Christians and others, acknowledging we are humans; we are all God’s creation. Why can we not truly love our neighbors, be honest and forthcoming with each other and collectively seek peace. Holding hands across all seas, islands, nations should be the goal of all people.
For your Cordoba House may I suggest an opening to the sea of friendship of a pluralistic society by recommending all faiths be represented in your structure. House a church, a synagogue and a mosque. Have community space available for other religions. Insure an open forum is presented, via television, to all services, discussions, conferences. Let everyone, of all faiths, pray in the same building. Have it be a cultural center for collective thought and achieving a loving neighborhood.
If Cordoba House cannot be a Cultural center for all Abrahamic religions then it is only a monument to the success of Islam over America. It should not be built at the location suggested, or any where near the WTC calamity, as noted in Sura 101, where upon doom was brought upon the opponents of Truth (your truth). This House as a Muslim house would be in celebration of a victory and a notice that standing alone you do not serve disbelievers in Islam.
American for Peace and Tolerance
Be the American for peace and tolerance you say you are and not allow this stimulus to differences of religious thought and ideology be erected and fuel an unwanted fire.
Grace and peace,