The mantra 'Islam is peace' is almost 1,400 years out of date.
As the debate continues regarding the proposed building of a mosque and Islamic center in lower Manhattan, the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk, bishop of New York released a letter to the people of his diocese.
The bishop begins his letter by quoting Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan who has called for "a civil, rational, loving, respectful discussion," regarding the building of the proposed mosque and Islamic center in lower Manhattan.
I would also agree that at this juncture, respectful dialogue is critical, so that the issues surrounding the building of the proposed mosque are clearly identified and discussed.
However, Bishop Mark Sisk exposes his ignorance about the Islamic faith from this point on.
- He says, "We must not let our emotions lead us into the error of persecuting or condemning an entire religion for the sins of its most misguided adherents. The worldwide Islamic community is no more inclined to violence that any other."
It would be easy for us in the United States to believe that Islam is a religion of peace. By far the majority of Muslims in the US are law abiding citizens who seek to live out their lives without recourse to violence, but less than a days aircraft flight from our borders, a classical form of Islam challenges peace and defiantly rejects tolerance of other religions.
Even within our borders we are witnessing a rise in honor killings and the persecution of converts. The mantra 'Islam is peace' is almost 1,400 years out of date. It was only for about 13 years that Islam was peace and nothing but peace. From 622 onwards it became increasingly aggressive, albeit with periods of peaceful co-existence, particularly in the colonial period, when the theology of war was not dominant.
- 2. The bishop says, "At the Episcopal Diocese of New York we know the leaders of this project, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife Daisy Khan. We know that they are loving, gentle people, who epitomize Islamic moderation."
The loving, gentle Imam Rauf, in his book "What's Right With Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West" affirms that Muslims interpret the Quran through the Hadith. He says, "A collection of the Prophets sayings and actions, called the Hadith, is used not only as a guide for Muslims behavior but also for a primary source of Islamic Law after the Koran."
It is the Hadith that promotes some of the most extreme forms of punishment in Islam, such as stoning, which were enforced in Afghanistan as recently as last week. It hardly seems appropriate to describe someone who interprets his Islamic faith using the Hadith as a man who 'epitomizes Islamic moderation'.
Furthermore, Sufi Islam, which the bishop and many other commentators insisted is a peaceful expression of the Islamic faith, has a history of violence which is strikingly similar that that of other Islamic traditions.
Author Robert Spencer says, "Sufis from al-Ghazali to the present day have taught the necessity of jihad warfare, and have participated in that warfare. And in January 2009, Iraqi representatives of the Naqshabandi Sufi order met with Khaled Mashaal of Hamas, praised his jihad, donated jewelry to him, and boasted of their own jihad attacks against Americans in Iraq."
- 3. The bishop says that the proposed Islamic Center is, "Intended in part to promote understanding and tolerance among different religions."
The right to religious freedom, including the right of individuals to change their religion, is taken for granted by most people in the West. However, in Islam, all schools of law agree that adult male apostates from Islam should suffer the death penalty. There are many cases where zealous Islamic leaders take Sharia' Law into their own hands and carry out their own execution of apostates or persons who are believed to have committed blasphemy against Islam. I wonder if the bishop understands that this is the type of tolerance that is expressed in the name of Islam, by religious leaders who are described as peace loving Muslims.
- 4. The bishops says, "We know that as Sufis, they are members of an Islamic sect that teaches a universal belief in man's relationship to God that is not dissimilar from mystic elements in certain strains of Judaism and Christianity."
Here the bishop exposes the agenda that he and other revisionists use to deceive their followers, that all religions lead to one God who is inclusive of all people, no matter what doctrine, holy book or belief system they choose. This doctrine creates a god in our imagine, a mix of religions, secularism and selfishness together to form a new god for a new age.
If it is freedom that we are looking for - 'know the truth and the truth will make you free.'
----The Very Rev. Julian M. Dobbs is an archdeacon with CANA.