Questions for a HuffPo writer. “Park 51: The Ground Zero Mosque Is Not a Mosque,” by Anushay Hossain at the Huffington Post, August 19 (thanks to Liz):
…This Community Center plans to house a culinary school, an auditorium, a swimming pool, a basketball court, and yes, space for prayer. But it is not a mosque, so we all need to stop calling it that….
Question for Anushay Hossain: those big Protestant megachurches that feature day care centers, gyms, and various other modern accoutrements — are they no longer churches because they feature all sorts of extra besides the “space for prayer”?
…We need to stipulate that those men who brought down the Twin Towers were not Muslims. People who park their cars packed with explosives and abandon them in Times Square in the name of Islam are not Muslim. They are terrorists and they terrorize Muslims just as much as anyone else. They are not us and we are not them. And there is no better time for moderate Muslims to reclaim their faith from the terrorists than now, during Ramadan….
How great. The only problem with it is this: Anushay Hossain is saying that the men who brought down the Twin Towers and the Times Square bomber were not Muslims, but they said they were, and not only that: they also justified and explained their violent acts with reference to Islamic texts and teachings.
So in what sense were they not Muslims? Anushay Hossain (and so many others who say the same thing) is essentially saying that they were not Muslims because they did something she considers un-Islamic, but which they consider quintessentially Islamic. Before they committed these acts, they considered themselves Muslim, and everyone around them did as well.
And so another question for Anushay Hossain: at what point did these men become non-Muslim? Was it at the point that they committed their mass murder, or attempted mass murder, in the name of Islam? If so, was there any reliable way to distinguish them from peaceful Muslims before they committed their acts? What steps is your mosque taking to make sure that other Muslims don’t suddenly become non-Muslim in this way, under the mistaken belief that they’re performing quintessentially Muslim acts?
If no such steps are being taken, and if there is no way to tell whether a Muslim is actually a non-Muslim before he commits an act of violence in the name of Islam, would not law enforcement authorities be entirely justified to subject mosques and Islamic centers to special scrutiny?