THERE ARE GOOD reasons to stop the proposed Ground Zero mosque. But what's the message people have gotten from the mainstream media? "Muslims killed people on 9/11, so Muslims should not be allowed to build a mosque so near to Ground Zero."
That's pretty lame. Part of the reason for this weak argument against the Ground Zero mosque is that the really good reasons for opposing it require some background knowledge about Islam — information too extensive to be packed into a sound bite. When the full argument gets squeezed into a sound bite, it is reduced to something embarrassingly pathetic.
For the sound bite to make any sense at all, you have to know quite a bit about Islam. But for someone who thinks Islam is simply another religion, similar to Christianity or Buddhism or Judaism, and that a small fringe of crazy extremists have hijacked the religion and committed atrocities in its name — atrocities that go against the foundational teachings of Islam, sullying the peaceful reputation of Islam — for someone with that understanding of Islam, the arguments against the Ground Zero mosque sound not just lame, but seem like an obviously weak excuse to be a hater, a bigoted Islamophobe, a redneck, an ignorant Bible-thumper, or just an intolerant jerk.
I don't believe people who think that way should be ignored. I think they should be debriefed. And I don't mean removing their underwear. I mean they should be brought up to speed about Islam. They know almost nothing about Islam, and what they think they know is getting in the way of them learning any more about it.
If we started from scratch to fill in the details represented by the sound bite, the full argument would go something like this:
Muslims killed people on 9/11 because mainstream Islam (represented by hundreds of millions of Muslims in the Middle East, Indonesia, and elsewhere) is intent on Islamizing the non-Muslim world, and has been since the year 622. That's quite an indictment. Some would call it an "allegation." But it is nothing more than an historical and doctrinal fact. Well-educated orthodox Muslims would not take any offense at this fact. They would not consider it an allegation. In fact, they would take offense at the implication that this ought to be considered an allegation. It's just basic Islamic doctrine, believed in by hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world, confirmed and supported by all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, confirmed by Islamic history, and given complete authority by the example of the Prophet Mohammad.
The fact is validated by the information in the Quran, the Sira, and the Hadith, which comprises the core Islamic doctrine. It is not disputed by any mainstream or accepted sect or school of Islam, and has never been disputed by any mainstream or widely popular leaders of Islam throughout its history.
It is simply a basic Islamic principle: Islam exists in a state of war with the non-Muslim world until the whole world follows the holy law of Allah. Read more about this principle here.
Yes, it is true that many Muslims do not subscribe to these teachings. Most of them do not subscribe because they don't know much about their own religion (see more about that here), which is our good fortune.
But those who have read the core Islamic doctrine and consider themselves Muslims (and this would include almost all Islamic leaders, imams, and Islamic scholars) understand perfectly well it is their religious duty to bring the whole world under Islamic law. This is the prime directive.
Mohammad did not believe in contemplating one's navel as a form of worship. He believed — and made it mandatory for all Muslims — that one proved one's devotion to Allah with action. And the most important action, according to Mohammad, is jihad. Jihad is not limited to warfare. Jihad means striving to bring the law of Allah to all people on earth, by using your wealth, your speech, your pen, your time, and your life — ideally by peaceful means, but by war if necessary.
According to mainstream (not fringe or extreme) Islamic doctrine, man made governments (like democracies) and man made laws are an abomination and a sin and should not be allowed to continue existing in the world. Political action is a religious duty to all Muslims — political action aimed at changing laws and governments to follow Sharia, the holy law of Allah.
All this information is easy to discover. It is not esoteric. It is not hidden. Every bookstore carries at least the Quran (and usually the Hadith and Sira) translated into English.
Okay, so what does this have to do with the Ground Zero mosque?
When non-Muslims think about building a house of worship, we think about a peaceful place where devout, believing people can commune with their creator. But in order to understand what a mosque is to Muslims, you have to understand the fundamentally political nature of Islam. Most of Islam is political. It is not a fringe part of Islam. It is the main part.
Mohammad's biography is one of the core doctrines of Islam. It is called the Sira. The amount of the Sira's text devoted to jihad is 67%. It says in the Quran — Islam's most holy book — that a Muslim should follow Mohammad's perfect example, and it hammers on this point, saying it 91 times in the Quran.
The practice of Islam is fundamentally political. Non-Muslims may think this is strange, but it is a normal, unremarkable fact to a Muslim. How can you believe in a creator who has given you the perfect formula for living (Sharia), and told you it is your duty to live that way and to bring the light of the holy law to all people, and still have some arbitrary division between "political" action and "religious" practice?
So a Muslim's conception of a mosque is entirely different from a Westerner's conception of a "house of worship," because their conception of "religion" is entirely different than a non-Muslim's. We should think of mosques the way Muslims think of mosques, rather than lay our own values over theirs, as if we understand their religion better than they do.
And their understanding is based firmly on the example of the Prophet. Mohammad used the mosque as a home-base where jihad was declared, where fatwas were made, where indoctrination took place, where raids and attacks were planned, where the planning and building of the Islamic State took place, where military orders were given, and where Mohammad gave his death sentences to the enemies of Islam. This is not "anti-Islam propaganda." This is history as understood and believed by Muslims. This is basic Islamic history. Read more about what mosques mean to Muslims.
This is not just interesting ancient history. Mosques are still put to these uses today.
In Islam, the mosque is the center of their religion, and in Islam religion is totally encompassing in a way non-Muslims can hardly imagine.
If the mosque at Ground Zero is built, it will be considered to be a triumphant symbol of the third jihad by most orthodox Muslims in the world. We may not like it, we may wish this wasn't the case, we may believe that our Muslim friend wouldn't see it that way (and we may be right about that), but most orthodox Muslims will see it this way. When you know a lot about Islam, this will be obvious.
But to understand the idea of "the third jihad," we need to go further back. There have been two major jihads in Islamic history, and mosques always played a central role. The first jihad started with Mohammad. His armies conquered all of Arabia. In the hundred years after his death, his armies conquered most of the Middle East, North Africa and Spain. The first jihad lasted from 622 AD until 750 AD. Read more about that here.
The second major jihad started in 1071 AD. Islamic armies toppled Constantinople and spread into Europe, India, and further into Africa. The second jihad began to decline when the Muslim army was stopped on September 11th, 1683 at the gates of Vienna, Austria. Read more about the second jihad here.
The Middle East was eventually carved up, divided, and colonized by (mostly) European powers, and the danger of Islam's quest for world domination seemed to be over.
Then the combustion engine was invented and oil was discovered in the Middle East. Obscene amounts of money started flowing into the hands of devout Muslims. And for the last 80 years or so, Islam has been resurging. Orthodox (and heterodox) Muslims are immigrating into Europe and the Americas, and doing what they're supposed to do according to their sacred texts: Working to bring the holy law of Allah into the ignorant and decadent Western nations, by any means necessary. Violence is one possibility, but most orthodox Muslims now believe 9/11 was a tactical mistake. Arousing the anger of powerful Western nations is not the way to achieve victory.
Much more subtle ways must be found to convert the West to Sharia. And many ways are being found and successfully implemented. The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamic organization in the world, stated in an internal document written in 1991 (seized in an FBI raid) that their mission in America was:
"...eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house..." Read more about that here.
The Muslim Brotherhood has established what appear to be legitimate, mainstream, moderate Muslim organizations (opulently funded with Saudi oil money) which have set themselves up as representatives of "the Muslim community" to approve or disapprove of what is in American textbooks, what is published in magazines, newspapers, and television news, and how Islam is portrayed in Hollywood movies. These organizations have been able to influence how the U.S. governmental security agencies think about and write about Islamic terrorism. They are successfully silencing criticism of Islam in the West. And in numerous other ways, believing Muslims are getting Islamic law applied in the West, and getting it applied more completely with each passing year.
But what does this have to do with mosques?
Historically, starting with Mohammad, the process of conquering and subjugating non-Muslims included building a mosque on top of the previous culture's representative house of worship. It is a strong symbol of the dominance of Islam. It tells everyone present — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — that a change has occurred, a new sheriff is in town, a new political order is in charge.
In the world today, you could make a very good case that the United States is the most powerful nation on earth, both militarily and economically. And since at least the 1980's, the United States has done more to prevent the Islamization of the world than any other nation. The U.S. is a barrier to the political goal of Islam.
The Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked because they were perceived by Muslims as being representatives of American power — America's money and America's military. They were symbols of core American values, according to Al-Qaeda. They were our shrines. They were our places of worship, or at least this is how Al-Qaeda perceived it.
So building a mosque as close as possible to the site of the complete collapse of America's house of worship is a symbolic act, an expression of dominance, a triumphal planting of the flag on foreign soil, and for non-Muslims who are educated about Islamic history and its core values, it is correctly seen as symbolically spitting on the enemy's grave.
In addition, according to the Muslim, Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, who testified before the U.S. State Department, 80 percent of mosques in America preach "extremist ideology." Coming from an entirely different source, the Mapping Sharia Project sent trained people into mosques in the U.S. to find out how many of them are calling for jihad against America. They discovered that the majority of the mosques they've investigated so far do, in fact, promote jihad against America, in the Friday "sermons" (known as "khutbah") and in the literature available at the mosques.
Saudi Arabia's oil wealth enables it to control around 90% of the world's Islamic institutions (source), and the Saudis promote hardcore, fundamentalist Islam. They pay for these mosques because it gives them control over what is taught and promoted at the mosques. Read more about this.
If you understand all this, you can see it is not only symbolically offensive to allow a triumphalist mosque to be built almost on the site of 9/11, it is strategically foolish. It means allowing another mosque to be planted on American soil which will function as a kind of forward base of operations in enemy land, and which will, in all probability (given the high percentages just outlined) allow orthodox Muslims to reach more people and do more of their "good works" of bringing Islamic law to America.
Because the percentage of Muslims is much higher in Europe than in the United States, Europe is further along in the process of becoming "Islamized." It's hard to believe, but European laws are giving way to Islamic law. Muslim pressure continues to find cracks, and it works its way in. For example, all over Europe, the right to free speech is giving way to Sharia's limits on free speech (source 1 and source 2). Belgium, Germany and Britain offer benefits to polygamists' wives, even though polygamy is illegal there (source). Schools in Amsterdam don't mention farms because pigs are offensive to Muslims. "Many state schools in Belgium and Denmark only serve halal food to all pupils. In France, school teachers are advised to avoid authors deemed offensive to Muslims, including Voltaire. The history of the Holocaust can in many cases no longer be taught because of Muslim sensitivity (source)."
France is allowing Muslims to rule parts of their country (source). Britain allows unfair treatment of Muslim women (source). Muslim doctors in Britain don't have to follow the same rules of cleanliness as everyone else (source). Britain knowingly tolerates sedition by Muslims (source). Britain allows over 80 Sharia courts to operate within their borders (source). In these and many, many other ways (source), the laws, values, and principles of Western civilization are giving way slowly but surely to unceasing Islamic pressure.
With this new understanding of Islamic history, Islamic doctrine, Islamic current events, and the role and function of mosques in Islam, the original sound bite makes a lot more sense: We don't want the Ground Zero mosque to be built because "Muslims killed people on 9/11 and Muslims should not be allowed to build a mosque so near to Ground Zero."