Friday, September 3, 2010

Lailat Al Qadr: Praying Taraweeh at "Ground Zero Mosque" / Cordoba House / Park51 NYC

Artist's Rendition, completed Park51

This post is one of 4 on "Aman's and Bassam's Ramadan Road Trip: 30 Mosques, 30 States, 30 Days--American Muslims From Coast to Coast". I thought in light of the misinformation/ disinformation in the media about Cordoba House, these friends' visit to Park51 mosque on Day 1 of their journey deserved a post of its own. The other 3 follow.

51 Park Place, NYC

I have copied, accredited, and linked from the original post by reporter and standup comedian, Aman Ali (text), and advertising copywriter and filmmaker, Bassam Tariq (photos), on their blog, 30 Mosques 30 States, documenting their trip across the USA, over the 30 days of Ramadan. The 2 friends illustrate and write about the diversity of American Muslims, who are ~7 million in total. These millions share a faith, whether born Muslims, converts, immigrants, refugees, or multi-generational citizens. They also share American values, not the least of which is their belief in the American dream--that if they work hard enough, and do what it takes, their children will have a better life.


Day 1 – New York, Ground Zero Mosque (Pt. 2) [Aug 12]

Dude, it’s just a mosque.

Bassam and I walked into Park 51, the site of the so called “Ground Zero Mosque,” expecting to feel transformed, knowing the fact that I was praying inside the place that’s practically been mentioned in the news every 20 minutes.

But all it felt like – was praying inside a mosque.

The imam takes a gander at some notes before getting ready for the next round of prayers

Bassam and I spent days debating whether or not we should visit Park 51, because we didn’t want to get sucked into the bickering over the building that’s dominated the news cycle for weeks.

But at about 8 p.m. tonight, we said to each other “Whatever, let’s go for it.” Since we broke our fast at the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, we decided to pray Taraweeh, the Ramadan night prayer, at Park 51.

We hopped in our car and drove about 100 blocks to the place and found a security guard standing outside the building. In light of all the protests and animosity towards the mosque, I guess you can never be too careful.

Excuse me sir, can I see some ID?

I asked the guard if this was the right building for the prayer, and he asked me to wait by the steps while he went inside to check if I could come in.

I said to myself “Wow, security is this tight in here?”

Turns out I was a moron trying to go through the women’s entrance and he went inside to see if there was a path where I could walk around to not disturb any of the women.

I walk inside and see a group of about 30 men and women, mostly college students, already in prayer so I jump in and join the congregation. Most of them were familiar faces that I have seen at the Friday prayers on New York University’s campus.

I’m standing in prayer expecting to feel something considering I’m inside the Ground Zero mosque. I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel, but for some reason I’m confused why I’m not feeling some mythical sensation.


An announcement is made that the toilets are broken and people should go across the street. You can't have a community prayer without the standard hilarious housekeeping announcements

Then I realized, it’s just a mosque, just like any other place of worship in the country. So the only thing I was feeling was an earache from all the screeching on the microphone from the sound system — just like every mosque in America.

After the prayer, I walked outside and said goodbye to the security guard. His name was Rohan and he spends his days working security outside the building on a regular basis. I asked him if there’s been any kind of problems outside the building, considering all the protests. He said there hasn’t been any incidents at all, except for a random homeless guy that walks by asking people for marijuana. He joked “Yeah but it’s New York City, if I didn’t see a homeless guy walking by asking for weed, I’d be surprised.”

Rohan said the only thing he really sees outside the building are random people that walk by taking pictures. He said several people come by every day snapping photos. He said they have every right to, but he’s just got to take precuations [sic] and keep a careful eye on them.

After we finish chatting, I begin walking to the car. Then Bassam comes running out of the building snapping photos in a frenzy. I made eye contact with Rohan from across the street and laugh. I pretend like I don’t know Bassam and head inside the vehicle.


Please read the original blog post, and the comments there. Here is a reply from Park 51 to a concern about the inequality of having separate entrances by gender:

August 13th, 2010 | Park51 says:

Salam,

Thank you for visiting our space!

We are still in the early phases of building this project, but wanted to speak to the concerns above. At Park51, men and women pray in the same room, without partition (some women have asked for partial partition, for their own privacy, and this is as of now under consideration).

The separate entrance was introduced because of the high numbers of attendees during Friday Prayers, the limited space, the restricted architecture we are working with and the needs of people to return to work as soon as possible.

Because the building is only partly open (most of it is closed due to damage), and the doorway is very small, a number of women specifically complained about the difficulty of entering and exiting in times of high traffic. Also, because the women’s area is at the farther side of the room from the doorway (and the quieter side, we might add, because it is farther away from the doorway), exiting women would have to walk past men in prayer. (Many more men attend than women.)

Our priority is to allow men and women who are working to complete their Jumu’ah and return to work as soon as possible, and a second exit simply made the process more comfortable and more efficient. We did so based on feedback and suggestions from those women who do regularly pray at Park51 and share in our growing community.

Our space, as the great pictures above explain, is limited by structural concerns that will be addressed in the next phases of the project. Thank you for your concern, and we invite you to visit our space in the near future! We want to build an open, welcoming Muslim community, and we need your feedback to help us move forward. It is deeply appreciated.

May you have a blessed Ramadan!


Indeed!

Your comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

Related Posts:
Aman's and Bassam's Ramadan Road Trip: 30 Mosques, 30 States, 30 Days--American Muslims From Coast to Coast Part I
Aman's and Bassam's Ramadan Road Trip: 30 Mosques, 30 States, 30 Days--American Muslims From Coast to Coast Part II
Aman's and Bassam's Ramadan Road Trip: 30 Mosques, 30 States, 30 Days--American Muslims From Coast to Coast Part III

30 comments:

Wendy said...

Nice to hear that women and men are praying together. Also good to hear that there don't seem to be any problems around the area.
It just goes to show what a tempest in a teapot the whole thing is and hopefully nothing bad is going to happen in the future.

ellen557 said...

Agreed with Wendy, it just shows what it really is - just a mosque!

Shafiq said...

I love the 30 mosques blog - the writing style of the authors is amazing, as is the ethnic diversity on display - never come across anything like it.

Re the Park51 mosque - I'm just glad the storm has settled down. I think that the whole issue marks the crossroads the US is at. Stopping the Mosque from being built would mean be a pretty big victory to Al-Qaeda (who needs Bin Laden to destroy our freedoms when we'll willingly do it ourselves?), but it seems carrying on with the construction will further breed resentment against Muslims by Americans.

Chiara said...

Wendy-thanks for your comment, and I agree. I was impressed with the Park51 response, and that the issues of entrances was a decision made in consultation with the women, and to do what a downtown mosque often does, serve best those who work nearby. Thanks again!

Ellen--Thanks for your comment. Yes, it is "just a mosque", and one of many in NYC including close to Ground Zero (there is one 2 blocks south of Ground Zero). Aman's and Bassam's Ramadan 2009 30Mosques in NYC is ample proof of that. Thanks again for your comment!

Shafiq--Thanks for your comment! Great blog indeed. One wants to follow along with such a pleasant, intelligent, compassionate duo. The next w posts, particularly the last of the 2 will show that better. I agree that one should never collude against oneself, even if others are attacking! Thanks again for your comment. :)

countrygirl said...

I'm totally against the build of the so called GZ mosque, the building, someone say that it's not really GZ but the building they bought to build the "cultural center" was damaged by a part of a plane that few second later impacted with one of the tower.

in the banner the cordoba initiative they say they want "to improve muslim west relation" but if they want to improve why they chose that particular place where the majority part of the american doesn't want a mosque in that particular place, a mosque that will start building on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 can be seen a victory by many muslim extremist.

Shafiq said...

Countrygirl,

It's true that the Mosque is not at ground zero. The claim that the Burlington Coat Factory was damaged by the attack is an exaggeration - some belongings of one of the attackers fell on the building. The argument that this makes the factory ground zero can easily be extended to the whole of New York City and beyond.

The decision to choose a location close to 9/11 was taken a long time ago. I honestly don't think they thought there would be such a backlash (and there wasn't up until a couple of months ago) - this was a bit naive, but hardly criminal.

That the majority of Americans do not want the centre would normally be pretty irrelevant, but in this case, as you say the aim is to improve east-west relations, and therefore it does matter. BUT, if they do decide to abandon the project then in essence, the Muslim-hating extremists who whipped up this controversy, win.

Wendy said...

@Countrygirl, fortunately it is NOT the majority of Americans. Unfortunately there are many, certainly not the majority, who are like you and can't separate an attack by thugs and gangsters from the religious group they belonged to. If you are a Christian person and truly follow your religion then you should have absolutely no problem with any kind of religious structure being built not even within eye sight of GZ. Muslims were killed there as well. It is people who think like yourself that do great harm to your country in more ways than you can imagine. You add fuel to the fire for the thugs and crazies out there.

Of course you are entitled to your opinions but my wish is that people like yourself would look with an open mind at what is going on and think about what YOU are really saying about Americans in general. It's not good.

oby said...

Wendy...

" fortunately it is NOT the majority of Americans."

Polls show that most of America is against it. The Pew forum poll is the second link.

I feel there is no doubt that the center will be built but certainly no with the majority support of Americans. It will be built in spite of them and that is why I don't see it as a "Goodwill Center". I think it more honest to call it what it is...a mosque with facilities for other things rather than dress it up in Goodwill. Clearly there is no goodwill here despite the intention. Although he doesn't have the country's support on his side he does have the right of law on his side.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2011799,00.html

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/08/26/more-than-70-percent-of-americans-oppose-ground-zero-mosque/

oby said...

"The outcry over the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero should not be lumped together with protests against planned mosques in other parts of the country, a new poll suggests.

Nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose building an Islamic center or mosque two blocks from the site of the 9/11 terror attacks, but 76 percent would support one in their own communities, according to a PRRI/RNS Religion News Poll released on Thursday (Aug. 26)."

That quote comes from the second link I provided from the Pew report. I found that surprisingly the poll said what I had said in my arguments. Due to the extenuating circumstances of where it is being built I don't support it on a "Goodwill/Improve relations" level. It is not improving relations in any way. Most Americans oppose a mosque THERE. They don't oppose one in general in their own communities or in another location in NYC. That is why I find all this talk about Americans being bigots and racists a bunch of baloney. Are there bigots and racists waving that flag??? I wouldn't doubt that they are out in force. But this isn't about Muslims and mosques IN GENERAL. It is about THIS mosque in particular and I think it is very wrong to extrapolate those opinions and attitude to the American public in general about all mosques and msulims. We are talking about a very specific issue of ONE mosque in THIS place.

Countrygirl said...

@wendy sorry but around 70% of the americans doesn't want the mosque built in that particular place, tommorrow i will post the links, you don't know me and you can't presume ANYTHING about me, i'm open minded and i'm well able to separate muslim terrorist from muslims that want to live in peace.

@Shafi so in your opinion since some oppone the ground zero mosque has to be a muslim hater, granted there is a tiny minority of them but the majority part is seeing this project as a slap in the face, many american muslim are against this project, a couple of days ago i've read an article in a american newpaper by a muslim journalist that is against the project.

And yes the burlington palace was severly damage during 9-11 is for that reason that it was sold at a bargain price, i have a link for the photoes somewhere and i will post tomorrow as well

And btw so far the persons behind the project (sorry but right now i do't remember the namer) didn't say yet that he condemm Hamas as a terrorist group (the deparement of state consider it a terrorist group) he was asked to do so several times.

Shafiq said...

One thing I find interesting is that despite the majority of Americans being opposed to the location, the majority of Manhattanites are in favour of it.

The best thing to do, would be for the New York authorities to offer the developers another location. This way, it continues to be a goodwill gesture and the theoretical right for Muslims to build a mosque on the location, remains.

Oby,
As much as I'd like to think the majority of people would not be opposed to a Mosque in their local area, the scale of protests against Mosque developments in places like Staten Island suggest that a number of those respondents were probably fibbing.

Countrygirl,
I'm saying that a significant proportion of those opposed to the mosque are Muslim haters, including the people who first started the controversy. That they feel it's necessary to point a missile at the development, suggests a lot about their beliefs. And then you have the nature of the protests against the development - they were pretty ugly.

Landing gear fell on Burlington place - it hardly makes it Ground Zero, unless all of Manhattan is also Ground Zero. Then there's also the issue of the strip club, which is in the same block - is that also offensive?

I read the transcript of the particular interview you're talking about - he didn't refuse to condemn Hamas, he stated that it was up to the government to decide who is and isn't a terrorist, not him (NB, according to the State Department, Nelson Mandela was a terrorist but the Provisional IRA, which liked bombing nightclubs, wasn't).

The number of false accusations levelled against Imam Rauf and his wife are pretty disgraceful - it also doesn't help the opposition cause that they have to resort to lying.

oby said...

My apologies to all for not having the link I promised. I was having major difficulties with redirect and "jump" last night as I had something on the computer. It looked as if I had linked it but I am not sure what happened before getting to Chiara. A scan has been done, it has been cleaned and all seems fine now. I wanted to use this link in particular as I think it takes out some of the bias of the news. Thanks for your patience.

http://pewforum.org/Religion-News/RNS-Poll-Majority-opposes-mosque-near-Ground-Zero-sees-site-as-sacred-ground.aspx

Wendy said...

I do not believe polls done by the Pew Research Center necessarily reflect the true feelings of ALL America. It's interesting to look at the demographics of who and how they voted. I do like how they say "Republicans, Older People, Less Educated are Less Favorable to Islam". That says a lot to me.

@Oby - Americans opposing this are not 'showing good will' to Islam and they are showing a dirty face to the rest of the world and I will maintain by thought of "Shame On Them".

countrygirl said...

So anyone who is opposing the GZ mosque is against islam? i'm sorry for burst the bubble for someone of you but the majority part of the people that are against the construction of this mosque are saying that ok you can built your mosque but not here, What about the simbol that this mosque can have to muslim extremist? The governon of NY offered some other plot to built the mosque but the developers said no.

i will repeat if the persons behinf the mosque want to built bridges with the west they started with the wrong feet.

Btw they must get millions of $ to built the mosque who can guarantee that KSA won't finance it and by doing so it will guarantee that it will become a radical mosque (as many in Europe and USA) where it will be taught the most radical form of islam.

@Shafiq sorry in my opinion burling factoru was damaged by a part of the plane and it's a part of the destruction, you can't consider all Manhattan part of Ground Zero.

why if someone is against for something/someone is automatically labellad ad islamophobic/racist?

Severals year ago a group of nuns wanted to built a convent near Auschwitch there were an uproar and the pope told the nuns that is was inappropiate to built the convent in that particular place.

I reckon that the majority part of the people who is against this particular mosque are simply saying please built if somewhere else, this place is inappropiate for a mosque

Susanne said...

cute post! :)

Chiara said...

Thank you all for your comments, and my apologies for being brief (library about to close down around me).

I would just mention that this mosque was in existence for decades and the new building in planning, negotiations and approvals for 4 years before this eruption about it occurred. It has been a well orchestrated media event beginning from a few on the far right, Pamela Geller most prominently initially.

The Auschwitz analogy doesn't hold, in my opinion. The nuns did have a convent for years, in one of the Auschwitz camp buildings, specifically the one in which the gas (Zyklon B) was stored for the gas chambers.

I took a while for Pope John Paul II to ask them to leave--which, since he was head of the Church, was more of an order.

Park51 is well outside the perimeter of Ground Zero. The Burlington Coat Factory really isn't at all in the same category as a building that was part of the Auschwitz camp, and a particularly ignoble part.

I don't at all think that individuals who oppose the mosque being at Park51 are necessarily racist or intolerant. I disagree with them, and I think some of them are racist and Islamophobic, or fulfilling a different agenda (election 2010).

I certainly respect the view of those who are against it, including those commenting here about it. On the other hand, I hope it does go forward exactly where it is, and that people come to see that it is an interfaith community center, with a mosque (ie Muslim house of worship) attached.

Sorry, back with more comments, and please do keep on commenting, and re-commenting! :)

oby said...

Part 1.

Shafiq...

You put it so gently...yes, people could be fibbing. But I think the poll is probably more or less accurate in that it is anonymous and by telephone. What would people get out of lying? It is just as easy to express ones disdain or racism anonymously as it is to lie about it.

@ Wendy...

Although it seems very intertwined, to most Americans we are talking about two very separate issues.

1. Building a Mosque near Ground Zero

2. Muslims having the right to build places of worship in the USA.

I think the Pew poll bears out that fact.

In case one, most Americans are against it. Like it or not, racist or not, Goodwill or not, that is the fact. They don't feel it is appropriate. They feel insulted. They don't feel that they need to show Goodwill to a Mosque in THIS place. If extremist Hindus had done 9/11 and then wanted to build a Goodwill Center with a Hindu Temple I would bet anything you would have an outcry as well...perhaps not as much but definitely a big stink. To build a Goodwill Center there where it is clearly not wanted is an oxymoron. There is no Goodwill about it. I am NOT saying his purposes were nefarious...I prefer to think of Rauf as naive although a man who has spent so much time "building bridges" should have had a much better idea of the pulse of America considering he works so closely with the government. If one offers an olive branch and it is not accepted then to force it on someone is no longer a sign of peace and goodwill. IF it was truly a sign of Goodwill they would gently back off and reconsider.(and in my humble opinion, in a perverse way he would be seen as a bit heroic by Americans for taking a tough decision) There is no subverting the constitution because he CAN build. IF it were not to be built it would have to be a gracious decision taken solely by Rauf/developers to voluntarily move. But at this point they can't because it would require losing too much face and there is too much at stake for them. I see the developers as businessmen. They, like anyone else, want to make a profit from the businesses that will be there. That is good old capitalism and certainly not nefarious. But most people think having the mosque there is in poor taste. And yes, lots of conspiracy theorists are out there too.

I don't know where you got old people, republicans, uneducated etc as I did not see that in the Pew report.(maybe it was in the other links) what I did see was a fairly large slice across middle America:

"Fifty-six percent of Americans consider the site of the 9/11 attacks "sacred ground," including 68 percent of Catholics, 53 percent of white evangelicals, and 48 percent who claim no religious affiliation. Thirty-eight percent disagreed.

-- Sixty-three percent of Catholics, 58 percent of black Protestants and 55 percent of mainline Protestants expressed opposition to the New York Islamic center. The only group that was marginally supportive was religiously unaffiliated Americans, of whom 43 percent supported the project and 40 percent opposed it."

Having said all that...I think this dust up will eventually pass and life will ultimately return to normal. It will be built, people will use the facilities and at some point it will be a memory. Regardless of what the rest of the world thinks this is something that Americans are going to have to work out for themselves among themselves.

oby said...

Part 2:


The second situation is to me the one that is more important in the long term. That is what is the sentiment among the nation for building Mosques in general? The fact that Americans were upset by Park51 being built near Ground Zero is a no brainer. Anyone who thought that they wouldn't be upset has no concept of what makes Americans tick.

What do Americans think of their Muslim neighbor being able to worship freely? That is the more longterm question.

I think it is important to understand that while it does seem hostilities/intolerance are growing in some areas I still do not believe that is true for the general population. Just as we must remember extremist Muslims do not represent all of Islam, the vocal portion of people on building Mosques in places OTHER than Ground Zero area I don't believe reflect the majority of Americans...

Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR seems to feel the same way.

"Hooper called the polls consistent with CAIR's position that the mosque protests across the country represent a minority, however vocal, of public sentiment."

"We need to promote educational initiatives and outreach initiatives in the local communities," he said. "When people know more about Islam, prejudice goes down. And when they interact more with Muslims, prejudice also goes down."

Silk found some reason for optimism in the fact that a strong majority of Americans reject the idea of treating minority religions with fear and suspicion, even at a time of war.

"Yet three-quarters of the American people acknowledge the right of Muslims to build religious centers in their own communities. I think that's not too bad, really."

While I think most Americans do not support the Park51 endeavor, I don't believe that Americans as a whole will willy nilly discriminate against Muslims. In my own world personally, of the dozen or so people I have asked, only two felt what I would call a more pervasive hostile feelings toward Muslims...and one of those was a woman who believed that even Amish should be put out of the country if they wouldn't speak English. So I would have to say she was an equal opportunity bigot. The rest did not agree with Park51 although they did express their support of the freedom of Muslims as much as anyone to build places of worship. I realize that my tiny sampling is not much but I would dare say that they would be representative of most Americans.

I live 10 minutes from that infamous mosque of Rifqa Bary...the one that was accused of harboring extremists. With all the noise about Rifqa Bary and her conversion to Christianity and the fact that Mosque allegedly had ties to terror organizations do you know what happened to that mosque and it's congregation? Absolutely nothing...nada, zip, zilch...no riots by non muslims, no call for closing it down, no people running to the FBI to get it investigated or creaming in terror, no protests outside. It was international case and all we heard was....chirping of crickets!!! LOL!

IF extremism is increasing in the USA that would be far more important in the long term than Ground Zero Mosque. We as a people can not afford to treat any religious minority as a pariah. IMO the way people are reacting to Park51 is to be expected given the circumstances. What would be a shame and for me a far greater sin is to deny people the freedom to worship based on nothing more than their faith in a widespread manner. And IMO, that is what bears the greater scrutiny because ultimately it is what can cause the greatest damage.

I don't think there is much more to say about this topic. Obviously, there will be much disagreement all around.

Wendy said...

@ Oby ... You said:-
I don't know where you got old people, republicans, uneducated etc as I did not see that in the Pew report.(maybe it was in the other links) what I did see was a fairly large slice across middle America:

I got it from the Pew website. I might have to re-set my brain about the majority issue. I do know that Americans can be whipped up pretty fast to become of one mind on many issues and this is one of those times. What do you have to say about the growing 'believe' that the President is Muslim and...what if he was???

oby said...

@Wendy...

"What do you have to say about the growing 'believe' that the President is Muslim and...what if he was???"

I think it is one of the stupidest things I have heard about him yet.

IF he was a Muslim...fine and dandy...but he is not. He is a Christian. He has stated that fact before. This whole thing about him being Muslim has me perplexed. And it puts him in a tough spot. I am not sure what he should do about dispelling that rumor....if anything. On the other hand, there should be nothing wrong with stating that one is a certain religion, like Romney did. Each individual should be allowed to say what their affiliation is without feeling embarrassed/disloyal.

I am not one to watch Fox or cling to the news channels/read the Enquirer etc. so I am not likely to be swayed by that group. The thing I am finding a bit weird is that people voted him in...at the time they thought he was Christian. He advertised himself as one. And I didn't see the memo that he has switched horses midstream. LOL! IF he was a Muslim, the only reason that would bother me is because he wasn't honest about it when he was in the election process. The duplicity would bother me. For me that would go to the question of integrity. IF he considers himself Muslim he should have said it outright. Romney is a Mormon and didn't hide that fact. Neither should Obama.

I think one of Obama's problems is that people aren't exactly sure what he stands for...not only religion, but policies and why he does certain things...even the "pundits" have said that is part of his image problem. In trying to appease everyone (and not just religions...domestic issues) no one knows what exactly he stands for. It feels a bit undefined.

Now perhaps someone can answer my question: I would imagine that he IS considered a Muslim by the Islamic world because his dad was Muslim and religion there follows the father right?

Wendy said...

Petraeus: Koran burning plan will endanger US troops

The top US commander in Afghanistan has warned that troops' lives will be in danger if an American church sticks to its plan to burn copies of the Koran.

Gen David Petraeus said the action could cause problems "not just in Kabul, but everywhere in the world".

Pastor Terry Jones, of the Dove World Outreach Center, plans to put copies of the holy book in a bonfire to mark this week's anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The White House and Nato have also expressed concern over the plan.
You can read the entire article on the link below.This is simply disgusting!!!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11209738

Shafiq said...

@Oby

Fair enough. I think we'll see in the next couple of years whether this is indeed the case.

Re. your question about Obama and views of him in the Islamic world, I doubt any sane Muslim considers him a member of the Islamic faith. Religion in Islam follows, whichever parent is Muslim :), though in all reality, whether a child is Muslim depends mostly on whether he/she is brought up one. I have a cousin whose mum is British and father is Indian (my uncle) - he never went to Mosque and knows next to nothing about Islam, which is why no-one in our family considers him Muslim despite him being part of a 'Muslim' family and having a 'Muslim' background.


@Wendy

I've got a bad feeling about the reaction of Muslims to this event - we (collectively) have a habit of hugely overreacting to the slightest of provocation.

Susanne said...

Oby, out of curiosity I asked my Arab friend about your question and he said "of course not!" when I asked if his people considered Obama a Muslim. While it is true that most people in that part of the world are considered part of the father's faith (by default), if a child grows up and rejects the faith (in essence what Obama did by becoming a Christian) then they do not think of them as Muslims.

Good question.

oby said...

Thank you Shafiq and Susanne for answering my question. I obviously had a big misunderstanding there.

coolred38 said...

Oby..what could Obama do to dispell the rumor that he is Muslim...well lets see. How about hold a press conference and proceed to eat a pork chop with his left hand while sipping on some red wine declaring Jesus is more deserving of our worship than Mohammed.

That should do it. :)

oby said...

Shafiq...

Don't think I am not concerned about that...I have spent most of my life in the USA living with, in all honesty, almost no issues with Muslims...in fact, I have not often heard people say bad things...though admittedly we don't often talk about Islam. It isn't at the forefront of everyone's radar (although the news would make it seem as if all Americans were Islamophobes.) Life is pretty quiet on that front or has been...even immediately after 9/11 my husband who is Indian but Hindu got a lot of questions(although not about religion) but didn't lose any business. I would think if 9/11 didn't cause wide spread issues (not that there weren't any) then this phase that is going on will pass by. I hope very much anyway.

As for the Qur'ans it is awful...but they are doing it to provoke and IMO they hope to get a major rise out of Muslims to justify whatever it is they are peddling in terms of intolerance. I hope Muslims take a cool approach and don't give them the satisfaction that they are looking for. THAT would be the biggest slap in the face to these guys. If Muslims go crazy then these people will get exactly what they want and these Christian extremists will have won.

Wendy said...

Shafiq - I hear you on your bad feelings about the Muslim reaction. Everything is getting crazy and now the 'burning Koran' issue. I found it interesting that the prime reason the USA is upset about it is that it will put soldiers at risk. They are not talking about how bad it is for so called Christians to be burning Korans.
Oby - I'm not sure if I'm misreading you about the rise of Americans who believe Barack is Muslim. I said if he was who cares event though he is not. It's the hysteria and nonsense that drives me the most crazy!

oby said...

Coolred...

OMG! I literally laughed out loud. Yup! I think you're scenario would certainly answer any questions.

@Wendy...

"What do you have to say about the growing 'believe' that the President is Muslim and...what if he was???"

I thought you were actually asking me my opinion about that. Just trying to answer completely for you.

I agree with you...the hysteria has got me scratching my head. Whether he is Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jew or Mormon if he is a fine President and upholds the office and does the best job possible, does it really matter? (except as I said him not being honest to begin with if he had been dishonest about his faith). Even there for me, if it were true it isn't about him being Muslim but about him being dishonest from the get go.

You might find this link interesting.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/06/AR2010090602957.html

Briefly, it says that the longer Obama is in office the less people fee they know him. Sort of what I was saying above.

Susanne said...

What I find crazy is that this burn the Quran day even got all the media attention that it did. This is a very small church in Florida. It's not like Rick Warren's megachurch is holding this event or Billy Graham is signing off on it. But it shows how someone gets hold of a story and makes it into an international deal.

"I found it interesting that the prime reason the USA is upset about it is that it will put soldiers at risk. They are not talking about how bad it is for so called Christians to be burning Korans. "

That's because the US is more concerned about its soldiers [people!] than books. Surely it's not in good taste to burn others' holy books, but we even allow people to burn our flag (not without controversy). So it's one of those you have the freedom to do it, but it's in poor taste kind of things. And "poor taste" is kind of relative here. :-/


Coolred, I love your idea about how Obama can prove he's not a Muslim! Too funny!

Wendy said...

Good News on the subject...

Religious leaders - Muslim, Jewish, and Christian - met in Washington, DC, on Tuesday to denounce anti-Muslim bigotry. I took the Al Jazeera cameras to the National Press Club here in Washington to see more than 30 religious leaders in one room - with one aim: how to stop a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment that has already had violent consequences.

There was the attack on a Muslim taxi driver in New York city; an arson attack on a mosque under construction in Tennessee; Florida Pastor Terry Jones' plans to burn copies of the Quran this weekend, which prompted a wave of angry protests in Afghanistan and Indonesia and, of course, protests against the building of an Islamic cultural centre - including a mosque - near Ground Zero in New York.

The city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said on Tuesday that the hate is connected to upcoming national congressional elections.

"A lot of people are using this as a political gambit. I find it disgraceful, but it is their right to do it."

Election wedge issue

In Washington, the interfaith delegates also talked about the anti-Muslim backlash being a wedge issue in the forthcoming elections - particularly fears about the weak economy and high unemployment whipped up by extremists.

Dr Sayyid M Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America said: "Together we have said that we have a stake in this country. We have worked together and built trust, confidence understanding and goodwill. We will not let these fringe groups go ahead and destroy that."

Delegates agreed to turn to the numerous interfaith coalitions and councils that exist in almost every town in America as a way of calming anti-Muslim feelings across the country.

Rabbi David Saperstein, from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism told me: "We want to strengthen them, be sure Muslims are brought fully into those interfaith coalitions and ask them to speak out and educate their people about Islam and about the importance of indivisible religious liberty in America and throughout the world."

All this happened on the same day that the state department held its annual iftar for Muslim leaders. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, joined in the condemnation of the Florida group's plans to burn the Quran. In comments that received widespread coverage on US TV and radio she said:

"I am heartened by the clear unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths."

Many delegates attending the interfaith meeting in central DC went on later in the afternoon to discuss anti-Muslim bigotry with the US attorney-general, Eric Holder, at the department of justice.

Holder announced a federal investigation into four alleged incidents against Muslim Americans - including the attack on the New York taxi driver.

Muslims in the US might be nervous right now, but the interfaith summit was an attempt to reassure them - sending a clear message - in the future, other faiths will speak out against anti-Muslim discrimination - much more than they have in the past.

Another interfaith meeting - only bigger - is slated before the end of the year.

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