Islam and America, Three Years After 9/11

Far from being incompatible, Islamic values and American values are very similar, says a Muslim leader.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the Imam of Masjid al-Farah in New York City and the founder of the American Sufi Muslim Association. A popular interfaith speaker, he teaches Islam and Sufism at the Center for Religious Inquiry at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan and at the New York Seminary. He spoke with Beliefnet recently about his book "What's Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West."

The name of your book is "What's Right with Islam," and sections of it address "What's Right with America." What is right with both?

What's right with Islam

is

what's right with America, in the sense that the fundamental ideals of Islam, the idea of what the right society should be, are very similar to what the American idea of what the ideal society should be, as expressed in our founding documents.

When Jesus was asked what are the greatest commandments, he said "love God with all your heart" and, co-equal to that, "love thy neighbor."

Islamic jurors basically expanded it. They said all the law--how God wants us to live--is to protect and further five fundamental human rights: the right to life, freedom of religion, family, property, and mental wellbeing. What I do in the book is map that to the American Declaration of Independence.

Advertisement

It's interesting that you call America a sharia-compliant state.

It really means there's a religious commandment to build the right society, to have a sense of social justice and a social safety net, to have laws that take care of human beings, that aren't prejudiced against people.

You say that, contrary to what some non-Muslim Americans believe about Muslim countries, such societies can be religious and yet respect other religions and not be dominated by one religion.

Absolutely. To a large extent that's what happened in much of Islamic history. It may not have been ideal. But, for example, [during] the Ottoman caliphate, Greeks lived throughout Turkey. Two-thirds of Smyrna was Greek until 1922.

So there are definite precedents for a Muslim country to be more tolerant than perhaps some people today perceive.

Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

Advertisement

DiggDeliciousNewsvineRedditStumbleTechnoratiFacebook