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It’s now clear to most Americans that while Imam Feisal Rauf has the right to build his mosque wherever he desires, his decision to build it near Ground Zero is grossly insensitive, to say the least, and flies in the face of his reputation as a “moderate” bridge builder. Let’s take a closer look at whether Imam Rauf is truly a moderate Muslim leader whose teachings are in line with American principles.
New York Times’s Maureen Dowd insists that, “you have to be willfully blind not to know that the imam in charge of the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is the moderate Muslim we have allegedly been yearning for.” Others have suggested that Rauf can’t be a radical because he was selected to represent America to the Muslim world by President George W Bush. And many who have met him speak highly of his charm and apparent good will.
And yet, as we are by now well aware, Rauf has claimed that America’s policies “were an accessory” to 9/11, refuses to denounce Hamas as a terrorist organization, and proposes that our secular democracy be replaced with an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law. His supporters counter that the imam believes that the U.S. Constitution is already in line with Islamic law. Nonie Darwish, among others, has exposed the gross absurdity of that position.
A closer look at Imam Rauf’s published work on the topic of Sharia reveals a lot of what we need to know about this imam. His religious views are completely incompatible with the American social and political system.
In his book, What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America, as well as during his numerous lectures at the Chautauqua Institute, Rauf postulated that the U.S. Constitution is the best embodiment of what he believes to be the second most important commandment from God: “Love thy neighbor.” But there’s a major caveat: according to Rauf, the American political system is missing the first and most important commandment: “Love thy God.”
It is on this specific assertion that Rauf departs from secular democratic ideals. Writing in Islam: A Sacred Law, What Every Muslim Should Know About Sharia, he points out the difference between the American government based on man-made law, and an Islamic system, which Allah authored:
God’s role in the explicit philosophical construct of the law makes a big difference between the modus operandi of a righteous Muslim judge in a Muslim court and a righteous Western judge in a Western court. […] The Muslim judge explicitly “reports to God.” The judge who sits in the Western court is only explicitly responsible to the Constitution, the interpretations of a civil law and its rules.
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