so your surroundings become a garden.
Don’t sow thorns; for they will prick your feet.
We are all one body.
Whoever tortures another, wounds himself.
from Rahman Baba, a Sufi saint and poet
Author William Dalrymple sheds light on nuances of the Muslim tradition that are getting lost in all the noise over the planned construction of a Muslim cultural center in lower Manhattan, in an op-ed piece published Monday in The New York Times. He says the center will be spiritual home to Sufis, the most peaceful and inclusive believers in the Islamic world. How tragic that this message has been overpowered by the din of politically motivated rhetoric.
Consider the following:
Sufism is an entirely indigenous, deeply rooted resistance movement against violent Islamic radicalism. Whether it can be harnessed to a political end is not clear. But the least we can do is to encourage the Sufis in our own societies. Men like Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf should be embraced as vital allies, and we should have only contempt for those who, through ignorance or political calculation, attempt to conflate them with the extremists.
The fact that someone is a Boston Roman Catholic doesn’t mean he’s in league with Irish Republican Army bomb makers, just as not all Orthodox Christians have ties to Serbian war criminals or Southern Baptists to the murderers of abortion doctors.
Yet many of our leaders have a tendency to see the Islamic world as a single, terrifying monolith. Had the George W. Bush administration been more aware of the irreconcilable differences between the Salafist jihadists of Al Qaeda and the secular Baathists of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the United States might never have blundered into a disastrous war, and instead kept its focus on rebuilding post-Taliban Afghanistan while the hearts and minds of the Afghans were still open to persuasion.
For the complete opinion piece, go to The New York Times, August 16, 2010, The Muslims in the Middle, by William Dalrymple.
For a very different take on the same issue, read Citizen K’s blog conversation at http://www.killiansaid.blogspot.com/2010/08/viva-las-vegas.html
It opens with this:
The seriousness and depth of contemporary politics came to the fore yesterday when Nevada Democrat Harry Reid joined Republican opponent Sharon Angle in opposing construction of a mosque and community center near Ground Zero in Manhattan, approximately 2200 miles from Las Vegas.
Citizen K. has learned that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg conducted a conference call with Reid and Angle in which he expressed thanks for their concern. The precise responses of Reid and Angle are unknown, but I can reliably report on Bloomberg's end of the conversation:
"Senator, Ms. Angle, I'd like express my heartfelt gratitude for your interest in New York and your concern for the people living here...
"Yes, I do have to thank you. That you could make time to express your opinion about events in a city on the other side of the country when Nevada has a 14.2% unemployment rate and the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, well...I'm touched to say the least...