Ground Zero Mosque and the Questions Surrounding It

There are a lot of things being said about the Ground Zero Mosque. Should it stay, or should it go? Answering that question all depends on who you ask.

You see, there are many that say it should absolutely go. And their reason is based on an emotional one. With many people agreeing, yes, it is symbolically a slap in the face. But mainly because of who is leading the movement.

If it was a moderate, yet compassionate Muslim leading the effort, people would probably be okay with the idea of having this mosque only two blocks from ground zero. But, with this Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, there are far too many questions surrounding him and his cause.

As parents always tell their children, “It’s not what’s on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” And how true that is. It’s what is going to go on inside that will count. Which is one of the many questions that have people debating this mosque.

There are three main things that are on the minds of people:

  1. Who is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf?
  2. Where will the money come from to build it?
  3. What will be taught inside?

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

He has come on the national scene for his controversial plans to build the Cordoba House, which most people are referring to as the Ground Zero Mosque. But, is this all he is known for?

He is also known for the two organizationshe and his wife founded. The first, in 1997, he founded the American Society for Muslim Advancement. The other, founded in 2003, is the Cordoba Initiative. Both projects are designed to connect the Muslim world with American society.

The Cordoba Initiativeis the ‘main’ backer for the Cordoba House, which is said to be a community center. A place for Muslims to go, as well as non-Muslims, to learn more and progress the Islamic movement as well as be a house of worship.

Symbolic of a name, the Cordoba House has become another slap in the face in the sense of ‘conquer and occupy,’ drawing more controversy to Rauf for choosing this name. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said:

“The proposed “Cordoba House” overlooking the World Trade Center site – where a group of jihadists killed over 3,000 Americans and destroyed one of our most famous landmarks – is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites. For example, most of them don’t understand that “Cordoba House” is a deliberately insulting term. It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex.

“Today, some of the Mosque’s backers insist this term is being used to “symbolize interfaith cooperation” when, in fact, every Islamist in the world recognizes Cordoba as a symbol of Islamic conquest.”

What this statement, and the mission of the two foundations Rauf founded show, is a platform for division and not unity. At his core, these things demonstrate he is set on the advancement of Islam and its teachings.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

The saying you were taught as kids should ring loudly in your ears. Because, it really is what’s on the inside of this mosque that counts.

Not so much as the pool, the library or the ‘community center’ portions, but what will be taught. Of the most controversial things will be the advancement of Islamic law, commonly referred to as Sharia law.

Which points to another project that Imam Rauf is helping push, the Sharia Index Project. The index project is led, and funded in large part by the Cordoba Initiative. This project aims at, with a working team of Sunni and Shi’a legal scholars, providing the general public with an Islamic legal benchmark.

A benchmarkthat “defines the collectivity of laws that Muslims govern themselves by.”

Sharia law includes teachings and practices such as:

  • Husbands may beat their wives.
  • Homosexuals must be executed.
  • Advocates the whipping and stoning to death.
  • Advocates honor killings.

Sharia law fundamentally opposes the basic idea of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. It is a violation of basic human rights, values and equality.

Funding

This is probably the most important of all questions. Where is the money coming from to fund the Ground Zero Mosque?

Well, it isn’t easy to figure out. However, searching through the financial statementfor the American Society for Muslim Advancement gives some perspective. (Financial records are readily available because that are a non-profit corporation and must disclose their 501(c)(3) statements.)

And it’s what we find from their statements that is alarming. Yes, they take donations. But, mostly all come from other nations and their societies and programs.

For instance, a fund led by the Government of Qatar donated $576,312 in 2009. Other societies are heavily involved with the United Nations, like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) which donated the sum of $53,664. And while that isn’t a large amount, what it shows in the amount of money that would be funneled to the costs of this project, the Cordoba House.

Also on the record of their statement came $481,942 from the MDG3 Fund. The Millennium Development Goal 3(MDG3) is also backed by the United Nations. Another organization that causes alarm, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and who are associated as high level group members – H.E. Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, former President of Iran.

While these point to some direction as to where funding may come from, and whether or not they are harmful, it still leaves some holes in the questions regarding funding of this $100M project. There are also reports that the U.S. Administration is paying his way to seek funding from overseas.

Conclusion

Are all of the questions answered? No. Does this point to reasons why this mosque/community center should not be built? Yes.

The one thing that says it should be built, but also disputes the same, is the Constitution. The Constitution says that you have freedom to practice your religion as you want. However, it also says as long as it does not intrude on the basic rights of the people.

Being tolerant to the idea of the project is one thing, but the basic who, what and where questions are the first things to be taken into consideration.