In the past, I have tried my absolute best to take a proactive approach when it comes to contributing towards the building of mosques and Islamic community centres; in whatever possible way, I try and ensure my support for the cause is known, particularly if it is being pursued on unIslamic lands (Britain, mostly).
I find this push to erect sites of worship not an enforcement of religious constitution, but rather a freedom to allow the believer of a certain faith the right to engage in acts s/he deems fit. If shopping were to be observed religiously, promotion of the plan for a new shop would have been cited on similar grounds, too, I bet. As I mentioned in this post, religion has never desired to put the world in conflict, according to me; its ultimate strive still remains for peace.
People who exhibit concern when proposals for synagogues, temples and mosques are passed, usually do so through ignorance, and on some occasions, unjustified hate. Not everyone. But some.
Similar is the controversy that surrounds Park51, the thirteen-storey Islamic faith centre to be located in downtown Manhattan, a few hundred feet away from the point where once stood the Twin Towers.
If you have been following the story, you will know that supporters of the plan wish the completion of this building to demonstrate that "Americans have decided to move on". It will probably be symbolic for letting bygones be bygones.
But that is easier said than done.
Of course, there is another body that has publicly criticised the plan, claiming it to be victory for those who made the 9/11 attacks happen. Offensive, yes; because it needs to be understood that promoting Islam is not the same as promoting terrorism. At least fundamentally it isn't. Now, I know there is an ongoing debate raging about radical Islamism. But exactly how many radical Islamists are being wooed over by terrorism is more of a myth than meets the eye. The kind that is fodder for news channels.
Park51 is also the very issue that appears to have lost Barack Hussain Obama much of his fan following. In fact, majority of Americans secretly believe the President to be a Muslim at heart, as a result of his statement to endorse the community centre.
I have been a dilemma myself, ever since this news broke on my television screen about a month ago. My heart is in complete sync with the supporters of the plan. But my mind, unfortunately, isn't...
Because, quite frankly, I do not want this mosque to entrench the animosity that already governs the hearts of the west against the east. A lot of people have lost loved ones in the World Trade Centre catastrophe, and almost all of them have Islam to blame for it. The very Islam that ordains for the veiling of women, the growing of beards and praying five times a day. These stereotypes have been etched so deep in some, to even think for a split second that they can be erased, is as bad as blasphemy. Or so to speak.
I mean I could begin to say that terrorism has no religion, but what's the point.
It was America that wanted to eradicate the conservative form of Islam in the first place, putting almost every Muslim under the radar in its knee-jerk response to the immediate aftermath of September the eleventh. And now it is America that wants to start afresh, by putting aside these differences that have turned many Islamophobic.
I acknowledge that several hearts are in the right place (hopefully), but I wish that were enough; even though the country boasts freedom of speech, tolerance and equality, who knows what this force of opposition might bring about; we have already seen a Draw-Muhammad-Day, and there appear to be plans involving the Quran, next...
To end here, my question is, do you think it is worth for a mosque to demand so much wrong attention in its wake, especially in times when Islam has everything to lose?