Provocative letter. Rauf
Photo: Reuters
The contested site
Photo: AP

Past haunts ground zero mosque imam

Wall Street Journal publishes 1977 letter written by Feisal Abdul Rauf, caught in political storm over his plans to build Muslim center at ground zero, in which he claims 'peace is effective weapon against infidels'

The Muslim clergyman behind the plan to building a Muslim center next to ground zero in Manhattan wrote a letter decades ago asserting that temporary compromise is the best way to overcome infidels, according to a report in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal.


In his youth, Feisal Abdul Rauf wrote a series of letters, two of which have now been published by the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by conservative tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News. The editorial piece premises itself on the fact that Rauf's purports to represent moderate Islam, thus behooving readers, claims the article, to examine what the imam has written in the past.


Rauf's first letter was published in the New York Times in November 1977 ahead of then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Israel. The young imam pushed Muslims to adopt John Lennon's famous call to "give peace a chance."


"For my fellow Arabs I have the following special message: Learn from the example of the Prophet Mohammed, your greatest historical personality. After a state of war with the Meccan unbelievers that lasted for many years, he acceded, in the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, to demands that his closest companions considered utterly humiliating. Yet peace turned out to be a most effective weapon against the unbelievers," wrote Rauf in his letter.



The letter references events from the year 628 CE in which the Muslim prophet Muhammad called for a 10-year ceasefire with his opponents in Mecca, though other Muslims saw the move as a defeat. The Wall Street Journal added that Muhammad dedicated this time period to rearmament that ultimately helped him conquer Mecca and subdue his enemies.


Religious tensions in the US have recently escalated due to the debate surrounding plans to build a Muslim center and a mosque in downtown Manhattan near ground zero. The volatile issue has taken over public debate with many politicians fanning the flames and people taking to the streets throughout the country.


The mosque debate has become a central issue in the Congressional election campaign. US President Barack Obama at first expressed his support of Muslim rights to build a mosque near the site, citing freedom of religious, a move that evoked the ire of the Right. He then claimed it was not a wise decision, and thus angered the Left.


The issue has even proved divisive within the president's own Democratic Party. Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi defended the mosque planners, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean are in stark opposition.



פרסום ראשון: 09.01.10, 18:59
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