Pastor's Page
By Fr. George Welzbacher
September 12, 2010

Just a footnote, if you will, or rather a short appendix, to the comments that I offered here two weeks ago about the proposed "Ground Zero Mosque" and its chief promoter (and would-be imam) Feisel Abdul Rauf. On September first The Wall Street Journal's editorial page drew readers' attention to three statements published over the years by Imam Rauf in the form of letters to the press that, while highly significant, are less well known than his famous assertion on "60 Minutes" that in the matter of 9/11 America's foreign policy is an accessory to the crime" and that "Osama bin Laden is made in the U.S.A." The three statements highlighted by the Journal reveal the imam in his true colors. They show him to be an Islamist tactician, offering temporary peace and seeming benevolence towards the West in order to buy time for those who venerate more radical dreams to gather their forces for renewed subversion at a later and more propitious date. The statements also manifest his resolute commitment to Israel's final extinction as a Jewish state and his willingness to shill for the tyrannous regime of the Iranian mullahs, going so far as to assert the integrity of that sad country's recent rigged elections, elections so patently phony as to have provoked in Iran's major cities massive (and much bloodied) protests.

May I share The Journal's editorial with you here. Judge for yourselves whether Imam Rauf is a man whose prescription for "healing" - i.e., going ahead with the Ground Zero Mosque-is a man worthy of trust. Or is this not rather the touter of a. Trojan Horse?

Letters From the Imam
From the Wall Street Journal
September 1, 2010

It isn't often that a 1,400-year-old treaty and letters from the 1970s tell us something about current events. But since Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf, the force behind the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, has staked a political claim as a "moderate Muslim," it's worth taking note of some of his past writings.

Much has already been made of the imam's comments on "60 Minutes" following 9/11, when he called America an "accessory to the crime" and announced that "Osama bin Laden is made in the USA." He has also refused to call Hamas a terrorist organization. [Hamas has claimed full "credit" for the recent random murders of Israeli civilians in the Hebron region, murders designed to "derail" the new peace negotiations that America is currently sponsoring] We've now come across two letters to the New York Times that reveal more about the imam's worldview. In a letter published on November 27, 1977, Mr. Rauf commented on Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic trip to Israel and encouraged his fellow Muslims to "give peace a chance. " That John Lennon lyric sounds good. But he added: "For my fellow Arabs I have the following SPECIAL message: LEARN from the example of the Prophet Mohammed, your greatest historical personality. After a state of war with the Meecan unbelievers that lasted for many years, he acceded, in the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, to demands that his closest companions considered utterly humiliating. Yet PEACE turned out to be a MOST EFFECTIVE WEAPON AGAINST THE UNBELIEVERS."

He's referring to a treaty in the year 628 that established a 10-YEAR TRUCE between the Prophet Muhammad and Meccan leaders and was viewed by Muslims at the time as a defeat. But Muhammad used that period to CONSOLIDATE his ranks and RE-ARM, EVENTUALLY leading to his Conquest of Mecca. Imam Rauf seems to be saying that Muslims should understand Sadat's olive branch in the same way, as a short-term respite leading to ultimate conquest.

To drive that point home, he added in the same letter that "In a TRUE peace it is IMPOSSIBLE that a purely Jewish state of Palestine can endure....In a true peace, Israel will, in our lifetimes become one more Arab country, with a Jewish minority."

Two years later, the imam weighed in on the Iranian revolution. In a February 27, 1979 letter, in which he scores Americans for failing to apologize to Iran for past misdeeds, he wrote, "The revolution in Iran was inspired by the very principles of individual rights and freedom that Americans ardently believe in."

At the time, Iran's revolution hadn't revealed all of its violent, messianic character. Thirty years later it HAS, yet Mr. Rauf's views seem little changed. Following Iran's sham presidential election last year and the crackdown that followed, the imam urged President Obama to "say HIS administration RESPECTS many of the guiding PRINCIPLES of the 1979 revolution-to establish a government that expresses the WILL OF THE PEOPLE; a JUST government based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faquih, that establishes the rule of law."

That Persian phase means Guardianship of the Jurist, which in practice means that ALL POWER RESIDES WITH THE MULLAHS. Vilayet-i-faquih is the religious justification for arresting protesters, forcing their confessions and letting them rot in jail.

Imam Rauf has said more moderate things, notably at a memorial service for our former colleague Daniel Pearl [a brilliant American reporter of Jewish descent whose head was sawed off slowly on camera by his Islamist kidnappers]. But his calls for interfaith understanding are hard to square with his support for a strategy of  "peace" in the service of Israel's long-term destruction.

We asked Imam Rauf if his views had changed since the 1970s. His complete response: "It is amusing that journalists are combing through letters-to-the-editor that I wrote more than 30 years ago, when I was a young man, for clues to my evolution. As I read those letters now, I see that they express the same concerns-a desire for peaceful solutions in Israel, and for a humane understanding of Iran-that I have maintained, and worked hard on, in the years since those letters were published."
[Emphasis added].
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And finally, from that same September 1st edition of the Wall Street Journal, may I cite an illuminating essay written by Pakistan's former ambassador to Great Britain, Akbar Ahmet. He currently holds the chair of Islamic Studies at American University.
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Mystics, Modernists and Literalists
By: Akbar Ahmed

In the intense discussion about Muslims today, non-Muslims often say to me: "You are a moderate, but are there others like you?"

Clearly, the use of the term moderate here is meant as a compliment. But the application of the term creates more problems than it solves. The term is heavy with value judgment, smacking of "good guy" versus "bad guy" categories. And it implies that while a minority of Muslims are moderate, the rest are not.

Having studied the practices of Muslims around the world today, I've come up with THREE BROAD CATEGORIES: MYSTIC, MODERNIST AND LITERALIST.. Of course, I must add the caveat that these are analytic models and aren't watertight.

Muslims in the MYSTIC category reject universal humanism, believing in "peace with all " The 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi exemplifies this category. In his verses, he glorifies worshipping the same God in the synagogue, the church and the mosque. 

The second category is the MODERNIST Muslim who believes in trying to BALANCE tradition and modernity. The modernist is proud of  Islam and yet is able to live comfortably in and contribute to Western society.

Most Muslim leaders who led nationalist movements in the first half of the 20th century were modernists-from Sultan Mohammed V the first king of independent Morocco, to M.A. Jinnah who founded Pakistan in 1947. But as modernists failed over time, becoming increasingly incompetent and corrupt, the literalists stepped into the breach.

The LITERALISTS believe that Muslim behavior must approximate that of the Prophet in seventh-century Arabia. Their belief that Islam is under attack forces many of them to adopt a defensive posture. And while NOT ALL literalists advocate violence, MANY DO. Movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Taliban belong to this category.

In the Muslim world the divisions between the three categories I have delineated are real. THE OUTCOME OF THEIR STRUGGLE WILL DEFINE ISLAM'S FATE.

The west can help by understanding Muslim society in a more nuanced and sophisticated way in order to interact with it wisely and for mutual benefit. The first step is to categorize Muslims accurately.
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