Over the last few days I have followed with concern the debate raging over whether Sufi Muslims should be allowed to build a cultural centre near Ground Zero. The fear, hatred and misinformation that has emerged horrifies me and makes me realize how easily we believe lies that reinforce our worldview. Hatred breeds violence and we become like the people we despise partly because we are not willing to listen to those who are different from us – be it because of religion, skin colour, age or any other difference.
We live not far from a Muslim mosque that was attacked just after September 11th. Christians from a couple of local churches actually formed a cordon around the mosque to protect the worshippers. In gratitude the Muslim community started what has become an annual event – a summer BBQ to thank the neighhourhood for their support.
Partly because of the fond memories this event evokes, and my growing desire to understand the Muslims who live in my own neighbourhood, I have searched for well balanced information from those who are far more conversant with the issues than I am. The best article I have come across, (at least in my humble opinion) which I want to share with you here, Muslims, Ground Zero, Fear and Fairness was published this morning on the Patheos website.
I sympathize with all those who are afraid of Muslim terrorists. I do not join them in that fear–statistically speaking, Americans are as likely to die in their bathtubs as they are to be killed by terrorists–but I am cursed by empathy, the writer’s ability to see how other people think, live, and love. If I were a New Yorker, perhaps I would also be upset by the news that Sufi Muslims want to build a spiritual center in lower Manhattan, not far from the site of the World Trade Center attacks. Maybe I would think that all Muslims were up to no good, and that their so-called rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of religion should not trump my fear that they might be training terrorists to take down the Chrysler Building. read the entire article
J.R Woodward also has some links to great articles that respond to this issue. He has summarized them in his post Choice Blog Entries – Mosques, Hospitality, Ground Zero, Muslims and Wisdom.
So before you form your opinion take so time to listen to what others are saying about this issue and make sure that your conclusions are well informed and in presented in the spirit of love and unity that God desires of us.