It has been almost four weeks since I wrote an article on the mosque which an Islamic group, called “Cordoba Project,” is trying to build insensitively close to Ground Zero. I received many emails supporting my position, and some questioning my logic. After considering the varying points of view, I concluded the following:
- Those defending the construction of this mosque are completely missing the point. This is not a “freedom of religion” issue. More than any other country in the world, America offers more religious freedom to all faiths. Try to build a church in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria or Iran!
- Many of those defending the construction of this Mosque do not know why the group responsible for the building is called “Cordoba Project.” Cordoba, a Southern city in Spain, was conquered by the Islamic Moors from North Africa in 711. During the time of Islamic rule, Cordoba was the largest city in Europe. Umayyad Caliphs, leaders of the Muslim world at the time were deposed in Damascus in 750 and relocated their dynasty to Cordoba. The ruler of Cordoba assumed the title “Caliph of Cordoba” thus establishing an Islamic foothold in Europe in order to spread and expand Islam. Cordoba was eventually recovered from the Moslem invaders by Christian forces in 1236 and became a center of activity against the remaining Islamic population. The symbolism is there and it is very real!
- Those defending the construction of this mosque do not know (like the rest of us) the source of the $100M to build this mosque. Cordoba Project’s 2008 bank statement, as obtained by a reputable news organization, showed a balance of around $ 18,255.00. Quite a bit short of $100M!
- Lastly, let us suppose that the mosque gets built despite all the protest and there comes a Timothy McVeigh type who blows it up. What will such a catastrophic event do to the security of millions of churches and synagogues in America and around the world? We were attacked on September 11, 2001, by terrorists who told us they were acting on behalf of Islam. Or did we already forget?
Some of the emails I received also questioned why I was so “obsessed” with the building of this mosque when there are so many other problems facing our nation. My response is simple; we as Americans can resolve all our problems as a nation. We have always been able to do that. However if we let this one go, the provocations will continue. I personally have nothing against anyone from any particular religion having unrestricted freedom to practice their religion anywhere in America, and to build their temples or mosques anywhere, as local zoning laws allow. I am only questioning the appropriateness of “Cordoba Project’s” actions and the provocative nature of the spot chosen to build the mosque. “If you are a healer, you do not go forward with this project,” former NYC Mayor Rudi Giuliani said on NBC’s “Today” show, referring to the center’s leader, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. “If you are a warrior, you do.”
Last week, I received two disturbing pamphlets in the mail. I can only assume that these were mailed to me as a result of my name, which can be identified by some as a Muslim name, although my namesake Tariq Aziz of Iraq is a Christian.
The first pamphlet was from an Islamic foundation in Santa Clara, California, and it was soliciting “Zakat” from me during the month of Ramadan. Zakat is an obligatory act to be performed by every adult Muslim who possesses a certain minimal amount of wealth. It is also one of the five pillars of Islam which are: belief in God; daily prayers; Zakat, the obligatory charity; fasting during the month of Ramadan; and once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca.
This pamphlet was disturbing in so many ways it is hard for me to pick one point to write about. For example, it was very precise as to what would happen if one did not pay their Zakat. “Those who hoard up treasures of gold and silver and spend them not in the way of Allah, give them the news of a painful punishment, on the Day when that wealth will be heated in the Fire of Hell and with it will be branded their forehead, their sides, and their backs, and it will be said to them: ‘This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste what you used to hoard.’ (from the Koran 9:34-35).”
A rather strong and threatening message I would say! And where would all these Zakat funds go after collection? A number of so-called charities were listed. After Googling all of them, I was not at all surprised to find that they were all part and parcel of the same Islamic Foundation, a 503(c)(3) Federal Tax Exempt organization.
The second pamphlet arrived from a Virginia-based mortgage refinance company which did not use the word “mortgage” a single time in their pamphlet, instead it referred to a “relief refinance program.” What was disturbing about this pamphlet? On the first page of the pamphlet, a Muslim woman with head scarf was featured standing next to a Middle Eastern looking man under a banner which read: “Hundreds of customers lower their monthly payment with SHARIA-COMPLIANT relief refinance program!” Sharia-Compliant? In America? Has anyone heard of Canon Law-protected refinance programs for Catholics or Kosher refinance programs for Jews? How could this be advertised when Sharia is not the law of this land? For those who are not familiar with this issue, the pamphlet completely avoids the word “interest” in it, which is an unacceptable concept in Islam.
I hope by now the readers are beginning to connect the dots, as I have, and are starting to see the big picture and maybe, just maybe, are beginning to get worried. The mosque sponsored by the Cordoba Project two blocks from Ground Zero; an Islamic foundation from Santa Clara trying to collect what amounts to additional taxes from Muslim Americans and distributing them as they wish; a Sharia-Compliant Relief refinance Program (not a mortgage with interest) helping Muslim Americans lower their monthly payments without breaking Sharia Law.
I am worried. Actually, “worried” may be an understatement. Please wake up, America!
Currently a member of Marco Island’s Code Enforcement Board, Tarik Ayasun has given many years of community service to various organizations.
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