Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"The Shariah Project" brought to you by ... well, can you guess?

It can be a little hard to find (hmmm, I wonder why that is???) But here is an interesting tidbit from the "program areas" section of the Cordoba Initiative's website:
The Shariah Project – Shariah (Islamic holy law) requires a nation to care for its citizens’ welfare, provide religious freedom, offer educational opportunities, protect minorities, and allow citizens to participate in their own governance. The Shariah Project will enumerate the societal – as opposed to religious – obligations that Shariah requires of a nation governed according to Islamic principles. The Project will strengthen the capacity of moderate Muslims to employ the vocabulary and principles of Islam to reduce conflict and promote democratic values in Islamic societies.
And this is from the "recent programs" section of their website:
2006 August: The Shariah Project – Initial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur
Convened in Malaysia by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Shariah Project’s initial meeting assembled five distinguished scholars of Islamic holy law from four countries. In addition to Imam Feisal, the group included: Professor Dr. Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi, Pakistan (Chairman of the Shariah Board for the State Bank of Pakistan and former president of International Islamic University); Professor Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Malaysia (Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilization and Former Interim Chairman, Constitutional Review Committee, Afghanistan); Professor Dr. Tahir Mahmood, India (Founder/Chairman, Amity University Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, New Delhi, and former Dean of the Faculty of Law, Delhi University); Dato’ Abdul Hamid Mohamad, Malaysia (Judge, Federal Court of Malaysia … Malaysian Supreme Court). The Shariah Project is sponsored by the ASMA Society in cooperation with the Cordoba Initiative.
Well, isn't that special? Hey, it's even more special than that. Please note the location of the founding of the "Sharia Project": Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, which just happens to be where the other HQ for the Cordoba Initiative is (besides NYC). And Malaysia already has fully functioning Sharia Courts!

In 2007 when a Malay woman, Lina Joy, decided to officially convert to Christianity from Islam (she had already been baptized almost a decade earlier), a Malaysian federal court "transfered the matter to an Islamic tribunal."

You see, by law all Malaysian citizens are "registered" with a particular religion, and Ms. Joy wished to have her religious "registration" officially changed. To an American, that may sound like something out of the Middle Ages, but in Europe most countries still have a similar registration process.

Lina Loy appealed the decision, but her appeal was rejected by a three court panel of Judges who ruled that "a person who wanted to renounce his/her religion must do so according to existing laws or practices of the particular religion. Only after the person has complied with the requirements and the authorities are satisfied that the person has apostatized, can she embrace Christianity.... In other words, a person cannot, at one's whims and fancies renounce or embrace a religion."

Lina Joy's case is an excellent example of "moderate" Islam at work. Malaysia is routinely cited as an example of a majority Muslim state with constitutional guarantees of religious freedom! And, besides, "extremists" give apostates one chance to change their mind, and, failing that, stone them to death.

Alas, the Lord is upon me

Metalinjection.Net has been so kind as to put up Behemoth's latest video:

Alas, the Lord is upon me:

"Glory to the Scarlet Woman,
Babalon the Mother of Abominations,
that rideth upon the Beast,
for she hath spilt their blood in every corner of the earth
and she hath mingled it in the cup of her whoredom."
[The Vision & The Voice, 12th Aethyr]

Sam Harris: Islam Is Different. (Duh.)

I hate it when Sam Harris is right. But this time he is, and I don't mind (too much) giving the Devil his due:
The New York Times has declared that the proposed mosque will be nothing less than “a monument to tolerance.” It goes without saying that tolerance is a value to which we should all be deeply committed. Nor can we ignore the fact that many who oppose the construction of this mosque embody all that is terrifyingly askew in conservative America—“birthers,” those sincerely awaiting the Rapture, opportunistic Republican politicians, and utter lunatics who yearn to see Sarah Palin become the next president of the United States (note that Palin herself probably falls into several of these categories). These people are wrong about almost everything under the sun. The problem, however, is that they are not quite wrong about Islam ....

There is no such thing as Islamophobia. Bigotry and racism exist, of course—and they are evils that all well-intentioned people must oppose. And prejudice against Muslims or Arabs, purely because of the accident of their birth, is despicable. But like all religions, Islam is a system of ideas and practices. And it is not a form of bigotry or racism to observe that the specific tenets of the faith pose a special threat to civil society. Nor is it a sign of intolerance to notice when people are simply not being honest about what they and their co-religionists believe.

The claim that the events of September 11, 2001, had “nothing to do with Islam” is an abject and destabilizing lie. This murder of 3,000 innocents was viewed as a victory for the One True Faith by millions of Muslims throughout the world (even, idiotically, by those who think it was perpetrated by the Mossad). And the erection of a mosque upon the ashes of this atrocity will also be viewed by many millions of Muslims as a victory—and as a sign that the liberal values of the West are synonymous with decadence and cowardice. This may not be reason enough for the supporters of this mosque to reconsider their project. And perhaps they shouldn’t. Perhaps there is some form of Islam that could issue from this site that would be better, all things considered, than simply not building another mosque in the first place. But this leads me to a somewhat paradoxical conclusion: American Muslims should be absolutely free to build a mosque two blocks from ground zero; but the ones who should do it probably wouldn’t want to.
[What Obama Got Wrong About the Mosque by Sam Harris]

Two other interesting, related, items over at The Daily Beast:

Ground Zero Mosque Hurts Islam by Douglas Murray
Murray is the Director of the UK based Center for Social Cohesion. He was born and raised an Anglican, but his studies of Islam led him to become an atheist.

A Muslim Questions the Mosque by Asra Q. Nomani
Nomani is an Indian born American Muslim journalist and researcher. She is the author of Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam.

On the broader issue of the "differentness" of Islam, I would humbly recommend that the interested reader check out the following posts from this blog:
The Price of Monotheism in a nutshell
Are there two kinds of religion?
What is "Counterreligion"?
The Essence of Religion

Getting Beyond Gingrich: Other Voices Questioning the Mosque

Knee-jerk "progressive" apologists for Islam would have us believe that only ignorant reactionary bigots would dare to question the worthiness of the plan to build a lavish "Cordoba House" at Ground Zero. But an ever growing list of people who do not fit that description are asking questions and raising doubts about the Ground Zero Mosque. The views expressed by those named below range from unambiguous opposition to nuanced positions that raise serious questions about the mosque and it's proponents without necessarily opposing the idea outright. (Also see this follow-up post which has yet another American Muslim opposed to the mosque and also Sam Harris' two cents.)

Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader (Democrat from Nevada)
"The First Amendment protects freedom of religion. Senator Reid respects that, but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else." Jim Manley, spokesperson for Senator Reid.

David Paterson
Governor of New York (Democrat)
“I’m very sensitive to the desire of those who are adamant against it to see something else worked out. Frankly, if the sponsors were looking for property anywhere at a distance that would be such that it would accommodate a better feeling among the people who are frustrated, I would look into trying to provide them with the state property they would need.”

Raheel Raza
Canadian Muslim interfaith advocate, diversity consultant, author of Their Jihad ... Not My Jihad
"When we try to understand the reasoning behind building a mosque at the epicentre of the worst-ever attack on the U.S., we wonder why its proponents don't build a monument to those who died in the attack?"
[From: Mischief in Manhattan]

Tarek Fatah
founder of Muslim Canadian Congress, author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State
"New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it's not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith."
[From: Mischief in Manhattan]

Aseem Shukla
Co-founder and board member, Hindu American Foundation
"Would the Imam repudiate an oft-quoted gaffe on Sixty Minutes where he argued that American policies were an accessory to the killing of thousands at Ground Zero? Does the Cordoba Initiative still advocate the selective introduction of Sharia laws within Muslim communities in the United States? Does Cordoba--with its strong ties and branches in Malaysia--reject that country's history of Muslim chauvinism as a Sharia practicing country that systematically discriminates against the Hindu and Christian populations marginalizing them to second class status?"
[From: Religion Was Defamed At Ground Zero]

Abraham Foxman
National Director, Anti-Defamation League
"The lessons of an earlier and different controversy echo in this one. In 1993, Pope John Paul II asked 14 Carmelite Nuns to move their convent from just outside the Auschwitz death camp. The establishment of the convent near Auschwitz had stirred dismay among Jewish groups and survivors who felt that the location was an affront and a terrible disservice to the memory of millions of Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust.

"Just as we thought then that well-meaning efforts by Carmelite nuns to build a Catholic structure were insensitive and counterproductive to reconciliation, so too we believe it will be with building a mosque so close to Ground Zero.

"The better way for Muslims seeking reconciliation and moderation would have been for them to reach out to the families of the victims, who we are sure could have recommended any number of actions to achieve those goals other than the present plan."
[From: The Mosque At Ground Zero]

Rabbi Meyer May
Executive Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center
"Religious freedom does not mean being insensitive...or an idiot .... Religion is supposed to be beautiful. Why create pain in the name of religion?"
[From: Museum of Tolerance Backer: No To WTC Mosque]

Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Associate Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center
"The decision should be based on a consensus of the families of victims of what was obviously the site of the worst killing field in America. Their feelings should be paramount in everybody’s mind The families should be the ones who inform us, not the other way around."
[From: Fallout Continues Over Ground Zero Mosque]

David Harris
Executive Director, American Jewish Committee
"Yes, America, above all, stands for freedom of worship -- for all, not for some. Religious bigotry has no place here. And, we desperately need greater dialogue and understanding, especially with Islam.

"But in this vast country, why, of all places, does the center need to be there? Will it really serve as a place for healing, repentance, and interfaith cooperation? Or will that prove a facade, designed to get the project approved and divert attention from the fact that the 9/11 plotters all prayed in mosques and believed they were acting in the divine name?

"To be sure, it is a difficult call, but that can't be an excuse for indecision. This is an important national issue. For the American Jewish Committee (AJC), with a long involvement in this country's social history, it is, above all, about the kind of society -- and world -- we aspire to build .... In this ecumenical spirit, AJC believes the Cordoba Center has a right to be built in the proposed location . . . .

"Once up and running, it won't be long before we know if the founders have delivered on their promise. If so, New York and America will be enriched. If not, the center should be shunned.

"Presently, there are two legitimate concerns about the proposed center.

"First, with a $100 million price tag, what are the exact sources of funding? The public has a right to know that the donors all subscribe to an open, inclusive and pluralistic vision of the center.

'Second, do the center's leaders reject unconditionally terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology? They must say so unequivocally. This is critical for the institution's credibility. There is no room here for verbal acrobatics. Otherwise, the pall of suspicion around the leaders' true attitudes toward groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah will grow -- spelling the center's doom.

"If these concerns can be addressed, we will join in welcoming the Cordoba Center to New York. In doing so, we would wish to reaffirm the noble values for which our country stands -- the very values so detested by the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks."
[From: Build the Cordoba Center?]

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield
President, National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, author of You Don't Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right
"Personally, I think that ultimately it's a reasonable, if not wise project. Though I think the timing and the process stink. This should not be about the assertion of religious rights but about the building of consensus. While those who favor construction clearly have rights on their side, they seem to be completely tone deaf regarding the feelings of those who are opposed.

"It 's simply not true that all who oppose this building hate Muslims, any more than it is true that all those who oppose Israeli policy are anti-Semites. Sadly, those who support the building seem to appreciate the second claim, but not the first. But this is not about my response to the proposed mosque/cultural center, it's about Newt's. And it's about why he's wrong - not entirely, but largely . . . .

"As to the history of Cordoba, Mr. Gingrich is partially correct. Life under medieval Muslim rulers was no picnic for Jews and Christians, and would certainly not pass any test of American constitutionality - not even close. But it's also true that life under Medieval Islam was far better for Jews and Christians than life had been for Jews and Muslims living under Christian rule. So if Gingrich wants to remind us of the past sins of one religious community, he ought to remind us of them all. Failing that, his selective reading of history does sound suspicious, even to those of us who are tired of all questions about Islam being met with the cry of "Islamophobe".

"Newt Gingrich may be right that building any Islamic structure that close to Ground Zero is bad idea, at least for now. But his arguments for that position are at least as bad as the worst ones which favor its construction. We need to think this one out together, not compare the best of whatever tradition we hold dear to the worst of whichever one we oppose."
[From: Gingrich Wrong on "Ground Zero Mosque", Mostly]

Neda Bolourchi
An American Muslim
"I have no grave site to visit, no place to bring my mother her favorite yellow flowers, no spot where I can hold my weary heart close to her. All I have is Ground Zero.

"On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, I watched as terrorists slammed United Flight 175 into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, 18 minutes after their accomplices on another hijacked plane hit the North Tower. My mother was on the flight. I witnessed her murder on live television. I still cannot fully comprehend those images. In that moment, I died as well. I carry a hole in my heart that will never be filled.

"From the first memorial ceremonies I attended at Ground Zero, I have always been moved by the site; it means something to be close to where my mother may be buried, it brings some peace. That is why the prospect of a mosque near Ground Zero -- or a church or a synagogue or any religious or nationalistic monument or symbol -- troubles me.

"I was born in pre-revolutionary Iran. My family led a largely secular existence -- I did not attend a religious school, I never wore a headscarf -- but for us, as for anyone there, Islam was part of our heritage, our culture, our entire lives. Though I have nothing but contempt for the fanaticism that propelled the terrorists to carry out their murderous attacks on Sept. 11, I still have great respect for the faith. Yet, I worry that the construction of the Cordoba House Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site would not promote tolerance or understanding; I fear it would become a symbol of victory for militant Muslims around the world . . . .

"But a mosque near Ground Zero will not move this conversation forward. There were many mosques in the United States before Sept. 11; their mere existence did not bring cross-cultural understanding. The proposed center in New York may be heralded as a peace offering -- may genuinely seek to focus on "promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture," as its Web site declares -- but I fear that over time, it will cultivate a fundamentalist version of the Muslim faith, embracing those who share such beliefs and hating those who do not . . . .

"The Iranian revolution compelled my family to flee to America when I was 12 years old. Yet, just over two decades later, the militant version of our faith caught up with us on a September morning. I still identify as a Muslim. When you are born into a Muslim family, there is no way around it, no choices available: You are Muslim. I am not ashamed of my faith, but I am ashamed of what is done in its name.

"On the day I left Ground Zero shortly after the tragedy, I felt that I was abandoning my mother. It was like being forced to leave the bedside of a loved one who is dying, knowing you will never see her again. But I felt the love and respect of all those around me there, and it reassured me that she was being left in good hands. Since I cannot visit New York as often as I would like, I at least want to know that my mother can rest in peace.

"I do not like harboring resentment or anger, but I do not want the death of my mother -- my best friend, my hero, my strength, my love -- to become even more politicized than it already is. To the supporters of this new Islamic cultural center, I must ask: Build your ideological monument somewhere else, far from my mother's grave, and let her rest.
[From: A Muslim victim of 9/11: 'Build your mosque somewhere else']