The mosque that has the whole nation in the grip of a huge controversy is being built only a few blocks away from Ground Zero.
Several of my American friends approach me with the same question: Do you think it is a wise decision to build a mosque near a site that suffered a brutal tragedy on September 11, 2001?
I ask them a question in return: Why not?
Some people might consider me insensitive, thoughtless, unpatriotic and so on. I can understand the sentiments of my American friends and fellow citizens who might have lost a loved one on 9/11. I understand it is human to hurt and feel patronized by such heinous acts.
While I do sympathize with my friends, I believe that building mosques in America have no correlation to the event at all-granted they are being built to spread love and peace.
Some might argue that building a mosque near Ground Zero is insulting to those Americans who passed away in the attack that traces its roots back to the Islamic World. There is no denying the evidence that has been found regarding this atrocity but the fact that it has tainted the name of Islam in today’s world saddens most Muslims around the globe.
The reason why this fact is so disheartening is because on one hand, peaceful Muslims are trying to reason with their own brothers in faith and on the other hand, they are trying to educate the world around them. The fact that Islam has nothing to do with violence is greatly misunderstood by both the Islamic and the Western world.
The Islamic world is increasingly becoming prone to extremist ideas because of the dogma instilled by so-called “religious scholars,” who play with innocent lives in poor countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. When parents cannot afford to send their children to schools, the only options available are the Madrassas (the religious Islamic schools). People who are motivated by greed, murder and thievery fund these schools. They have nothing to do with any religion because every divine law promotes love and tolerance.
If you trace back the history of early Islam, you come across a very different picture than the one being projected by the Islamic world or the media. Islam essentially stands for peace through and through and it has no place for violence.
When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) left Mecca with his companions to migrate after being persecuted for many years, he found refuge in another city, Medina. There, he was able to gather people under the flag of Islam by practicing and teaching utmost patience, forbearance, tolerance, forgiveness, brotherhood, kindness, and compassion. He was able to instill these beautiful qualities in a nation that was completely devoid of any humane emotion.
Before Islam, the Arab society was involved in infanticide and so much more. These were the people who buried their daughters alive, whom they perceived as a sign of disgrace to their families. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) restored the rights of women and established the rights of parents, brothers, sisters, kinsmen, neighbors, friends, animals and rights of every person over another.
This is where the western nations need to make a distinction. Because of few individuals, we must not categorize or stereotype the Muslims who believe in utmost peace and love. These Muslims are probably your neighbors, doctors, engineers and teachers who are trying to live a normal life in America. They are not very different from you.
And a part of your normal life means having the freedom to worship freely. Building a mosque is a sacred thing in Islam just as building a church in Christianity or a temple in Hinduism. What goes on inside is even more sacrosanct for Muslims who gather to worship one God and to gain spirituality, and to become better human beings. Therein, they discuss the Holy Quran- a book they believe was sent directly by God to guide them towards goodness.
At least that’s what they should be striving for–to go to the mosque and come out as a better human being that spreads no animosity towards any of God’s creation.
I hope there comes a day when no American sees Islam as a threat or is afraid of a mosque. Muslims have a big, daunting task in front of them: To reform themselves and become better human beings. In the meantime, we really need the cooperation of American people to trust their fellow citizens and support the right to worship and religious freedom.