More tendentious, misleading and false information from yet another blinkered ideologue given a platform in a major “news” source. “Five myths about mosques in America,” by Edward E. Curtis IV in the Washington Post, August 29 (thanks to all who sent this in):
In addition to spawning passionate debates in the public, the news media and the political class, the proposal to build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York has revealed widespread misconceptions about the practice of Islam in this country — and the role of mosques in particular.
1. Mosques are new to this country.
Mosques have been here since the colonial era. A mosque, or masjid, is literally any place where Muslims make salat, the prayer performed in the direction of Mecca; it needn’t be a building. One of the first mosques in North American history was on Kent Island, Md.: Between 1731 and 1733, African American Muslim slave and Islamic scholar Job Ben Solomon, a cattle driver, would regularly steal away to the woods there for his prayers — in spite of a white boy who threw dirt on him as he made his prostrations….
See, folks? Curtis is here semaphoring that Muslims are a victim class, that they always have been, and that opposition to them is racially-based. As for Job Ben Solomon, I suspect that Curtis’s source here is a Muslim one, designed to reinforce a sense that Muslims are victims rather than tell actual history. The story is curiously reminiscent of this one about Muhammad:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud:
Once the Prophet was offering prayers at the Ka’ba. Abu Jahl was sitting with some of his companions. One of them said to the others, “Who amongst you will bring the abdominal contents (intestines, etc.) of a camel of Bani so and so and put it on the back of Muhammad, when he prostrates?” The most unfortunate of them got up and brought it. He waited till the Prophet prostrated and then placed it on his back between his shoulders. I was watching but could not do any thing. I wish I had some people with me to hold out against them. They started laughing and falling on one another. Allah’s Apostle was in prostration and he did not lift his head up till Fatima (Prophet’s daughter) came and threw that (camel’s abdominal contents) away from his back. He raised his head and said thrice, “O Allah! Punish Quraish.” So it was hard for Abu Jahl and his companions when the Prophet invoked Allah against them as they had a conviction that the prayers and invocations were accepted in this city (Mecca). The Prophet said, “O Allah! Punish Abu Jahl, ‘Utba bin Rabi’a, Shaiba bin Rabi’a, Al-Walid bin ‘Utba, Umaiya bin Khalaf, and ‘Uqba bin Al Mu’it (and he mentioned the seventh whose name I cannot recall). By Allah in Whose Hands my life is, I saw the dead bodies of those persons who were counted by Allah’s Apostle in the Qalib (one of the wells) of Badr.
Back to the WaPo. Their second “myth” is really a whopper:
2. Mosques try to spread sharia law in the United States.
In Islam, sharia (“the Way” to God) theoretically governs every human act. But Muslims do not agree on what sharia says; there is no one sharia book of laws. Most mosques in America do not teach Islamic law for a simple reason: It’s too complicated for the average believer and even for some imams.
The Saudi, Iranian and Sudanese authorities don’t seem to have notable trouble sorting it out. In any case, the idea that Sharia is some complex and nebulous collection of arcana is a myth that is growing increasingly popular as Islamic supremacists try to advance Sharia in the U.S. In reality, “the four Sunni schools of Islamic law, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali, are identical in approximately 75 percent of their legal conclusions…” (‘Umdat al-Salik, p. vii). Islamic law regarding the stoning of adulterers, the amputation of the hand for theft, the institutionalized discrimination against women and non-Muslims, is not hard to understand, and is not subject to notable disagreement.
Anyway, what do mosques in America teach? As long ago as January 1999, the Naqshbandi Sufi leader Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani declared in a State Department Open Forum that Islamic supremacists controlled most mosques in America: “The most dangerous thing that is going on now in these mosques,” he said, “that has been sent upon these mosques around the United States – like churches they were established by different organizations and that is ok – but the problem with our communities is the extremist ideology. Because they are very active they took over the mosques; and we can say that they took over more than 80% of the mosques that have been established in the US. And there are more than 3000 mosques in the US. So it means that the methodology or ideology of extremism has been spread to 80% of the Muslim population, but not all of them agree with it.”
Terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky affirmed the same thing in 2005, saying that 80% of the mosques in this country “have been radicalized by Saudi money and influence.” The Center for Religious Freedom found in 2005 a massive distribution of hateful jihadist and Islamic supremacist material in mosques in this country. And in June 2008 federal investigators found that the Islamic Saudi Academy in Virginia, despite promises to stop teaching such material, was still using books that advocated that apostates from Islam be executed and that it was permissible for Muslims to kill and seize the property of “polytheists.”
Islamic law includes not only the Koran and the Sunna (the traditions of the prophet Muhammad) but also great bodies of arcane legal rulings and pedantic scholarly interpretations. If mosques forced Islamic law upon their congregants, most Muslims would probably leave — just as most Christians might walk out of the pews if preachers gave sermons exclusively on Saint Augustine, canon law and Greek grammar. Instead, mosques study the Koran and the Sunna and how the principles and stories in those sacred texts apply to their everyday lives….
This is just silly. Christian preachers may convey the substance of what is contained in “Saint Augustine, canon law and Greek grammar” in simplified form in their sermons if they choose to do so. So also may Muslim preachers convey in simplified form the content of Sharia if they so choose. In any case, “if anyone changes his religion, kill him” (a statement of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, and a universal among the schools of Islamic law) is not really all that arcane.
4. Mosques are funded by groups and governments unfriendly to the United States.
There certainly have been instances in which foreign funds, especially from Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region, have been used to build mosques in the United States. The Saudi royal family, for example, reportedly gave $8 million for the building of the King Fahd Mosque, which was inaugurated in 1998 in Culver City, a Los Angeles suburb.
Apparently the WaPo is admitting here that the Saudi government is unfriendly to the United States.
But the vast majority of mosques are supported by Muslim Americans themselves. Domestic funding reflects the desire of many U.S. Muslims to be independent of overseas influences. Long before Sept. 11, 2001, in the midst of a growing clash of interests between some Muslim-majority nations and the U.S. government — during the Persian Gulf War, for instance — Muslim American leaders decided that they must draw primarily from U.S. sources of funding for their projects.
In reality, it is estimated that as many as 80% of mosques in America are Saudi funded.
5. Mosques lead to homegrown terrorism.
To the contrary, mosques have become typical American religious institutions. In addition to worship services, most U.S. mosques hold weekend classes for children, offer charity to the poor, provide counseling services and conduct interfaith programs.
No doubt, some mosques have encouraged radical extremism. Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian sheik who inspired the World Trade Center’s first attackers in 1993, operated out of the Al-Salam mosque in Jersey City, N.J. But after the 2001 attacks, such radicalism was largely pushed out of mosques and onto the Internet, mainly because of a renewed commitment among mosque leaders to confront extremism.
There is a danger that as anti-Muslim prejudice increases — as it has recently in reaction to the proposed community center near Ground Zero — alienated young Muslims will turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America’s mosques. So far, that has not happened on a large scale.
Through their mosques, U.S. Muslims are embracing the community involvement that is a hallmark of the American experience. In this light, mosques should be welcomed as premier sites of American assimilation, not feared as incubators of terrorist indoctrination.
All right, so some mosques promote “radical extremism,” and some don’t, and since some don’t, mosques should not be “feared as incubators of terrorist indoctrination,” despite the fact that “alienated young Muslims” might “turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America’s mosques” in their rage over “Islamophobia.”
Funny how no amount of rage would ever lead me to blow myself up in a crowded restaurant. But that’s just me.