Toronto: The North American Muslims are required to change their mindset as they need to shift focus on American Islam rather that just concentrating on immigration, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of New York, USA expressed his views.
Abdul Rauf is on the visit of Toronto where he is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at a dinner organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada. He will also highlight the key features of his new book, “Moving the Mountain.”
While giving message from his new book, he urged the Canadian Muslims to understand Islam as the religion needs to be expressed in a way that it mixes with local culture and be seen as a local religion. This is the only way to get Islam fully accepted in the western world.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf became a reason of hot controversy in 2010 when he proposed the building of an Islamic community centre “Ground Zero Mosque” in lower Manhattan. The proposal sparked an emotional debate during the US midterm elections.
Despite the decades-long efforts to fight extremism, Abdul Rauf started to be seen as a “radical” after proposing Ground Zero Mosque. He had stated that time if he knew the debate would become so hot and controversial he would have reconsidered his proposal.
He said that he was surprised to see the reaction against his proposal in the country which has specific interpretation of church and state separation. He had no idea that a simple proposal which was of a religious nature would be made a political debate. He has been living in the USA for 46 years and he had never experienced such kind of politicizing of a religious matter.
He admitted with dismay that his image was disparaged as a “moderate Muslim” during the debate even though his career and image was clean.
“My track record speaks for itself. I have a lifetime commitment of interfaith engagement, interfaith dialogue, relationship — even my project was intended to be a multi-faith centre . . . . I’ve have this dream for 20 years,” he said.
It is a fact that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a “moderate Muslim” and a unifying voice in a divided world. He was the man who gave sessions on Islam to the FBI and invited agents to his mosque shortly after 9/11 attacks in 2001 for fostering cooperation at a time when Muslims felt under attack.
Imam Feisal said that Islam as a religion is much like Christianity and Judaism. “We believe in the same prophets, the same God, the same ethical principles . . . We need to work together.
We ourselves have been victims of extremism. We were among the people who perished on 9/11. Extremism today kills lots of Muslims — look what happened in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, all the suicide bombing, we are the victims of them,” he clarified.
He expressed his deep concerns over the inclusion of objectionable material in the US military training course urging the US troops to be prepared for a war against Islam. However, the course’s teaching was stopped on command of high US military official who admitted that it was included mistakenly and it was not meant for that.
He said that these kind of things will further damage the image of America in the Muslim world and cement the perception that the US is against Islam which is not a fact as it is against extremism.“This is an example of extremism on the American side of the aisle which fuels extremism on the other side. The real battlefront is not between Islam and West. The real battlefront is between all the faith traditions . . . atheists among that . . . all the moderates against extremists,” Abdul Rauf concluded.