City of Brass

City of Brass

Inside the Ground Zero Mosque

Two American muslims, Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq, have begun a 30-day roadtrip across America, in a goal of visiting 30 mosques in 30 days in 30 states during Ramadan. They just started since yesterday was day 1 of Ramadan for most muslim communities – beginning their journey in New York (here’s their road map).

And I congratulate them on choosing to visit the current, makeshift mosque at 51 Park Street as part of their first day. They have taken what probably are the only public photos of the current prayer space inside the location of the old Burlington Coat Factory building that exist on the Internet. These are a must-see, and really underscore the need for a proper mosque facility to serve lower Manhattan.


Go check out what they thought about the dreaded Park51 mosque and if you are able, chip in a few bucks to them to help them finance their road trip. These guys deserve our support!

(and yes, of course it isn’t the “Ground Zero Mosque”, it’s really the “makeshift prayer space two blocks from Ground Zero” – but it’s still the epicenter of the furious nationwide debate. And yet, like the eye of any hurricane, it’s so peaceful inside…)

  • Taha Raja

    I applaud President Obama to uphold the core values of our Nation and respect his courage to do so against an overwhelming anti-islamic sentiment that has swelled around this issue.
    However, I also feel President Obama lost an opportunity to further accentuate the religious freedom opportunity by pointing out to the very leaders that sat around this dinner listening to him; Ambassadors and Dignitaries representing some of the most totalitarian states like Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia continues to practice some of the most egregious form of totalitarian dictatorships in the world. Not only are they intolerant of other religions but rather they are intolerant to other Muslim brothers who do not agree with their Wahabi interpretation of Islam. Case and point is the continued persecution and desecration of a Shi’ite revered site in Medina where the Prophet Muhammed SA daughter, Fatema SA and grandchildren are buried – Janat-Ul-Baqi. Here the Saudi government not only has systematically destroyed key religious sites important to Muslims, especially Shi’ite Muslims, but they have prohibited any further development of the area. Instead it is kept in a delapitated state with the Secret Police monitoring the site and surrounded by a fort like structure which looks grand from the outside but disrespects the actual cemetery and the religious significance of the location.
    When President Obama made the above statements yesterday, these very same leaders who represent their governments stood up in support clapping and giving a standing ovation to President Obama. I call upon those leaders attending this ceremony to take heed and learn from the ideals talked about by President Obama and adopt those principals in their own country.
    I have said repeatedly that this controversy surrounding the Community House at Park 51 represents the best of our United States. The energetic discussion and the fact that the leaders of New York, despite whatever personal preferences and biases, have stood in support for the project and allowed it to move forward says volumes about the true freedoms we enjoy.
    On the surface the Cordoba House and the Masjid that it will house may seem “insensitive” and “wrong”. I whole heartedly disagree and in fact I think it honors and celebrates the 3000 victims (many of them who were Muslims as well) of 9/11. What better than to honor the memories of the victims of 9/11 then to have a call for prayers sound 5 times a day just a few blocks from Ground Zero where US Citizens will come there to pray and remember. Those families around the local area will come to the community center will play, learn and socially interact with each other and practice the fundamentals of the American Life each and every day. What better way to celebrate the American Dream then to have the true nature of Islam be practiced in defiance to those terrorists who attempted to destroy our way of life on 9/11. This center in fact will demonstrate to those intolerant, ignorant militants that America is not Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or other but rather a way of life that allows all religions including the true values of Islam to be practiced harmoniously and side by side with others who may disagree.
    I call upon the Saudis, The Pakistanis, The Indonesians, The Egyptians, The Kuwaiti and another intolerant regimes to see and learn! I call upon the Saudi’s who may be contributing to this Cordoba House project to stop and take head and learn from this awesome system we have in our great nation, and for once just take the first step – allow the reconstruction and rebuilding of revered institutions in their own countries for their minority populations. Maybe they can start by allowing the rebuilding of Janat-Ul-Baqi – a revered site of Fatema SA the daughter of Prophet Mohammed SA.

  • Anosh

    It is “financial jihad,” explained Yusuf Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s sharia compass — and the man Feisal Rauf, the brains behind the proposed Ground Zero mosque, admires as “the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today.” It was 2002 and Qaradawi, who endorses suicide bombing and the targeting of American personnel operating in Islamic countries, was giving a lecture on the need to use the international financial system to support Islamist goals — like Hamas’s war to destroy Israel.
    The financial jihad has now achieved its greatest coup so far: It has co-opted the U.S. government as a partner. In fact, if you would like to see a contributor to the jihad, have a look in the mirror. Thanks to the Obama administration, every one of us is complicit. The bailout bonanza made each of us an owner of American Insurance Group (AIG). Under the stewardship of its real CEO, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, AIG proudly runs the world’s most lavishly funded sharia-compliant insurance business — and it is desperately trying to convince a federal court in Michigan that no one should have a problem with that.
    Sharia-compliant finance (SCF) is now a thriving American industry. Sharia is Islam’s authoritarian legal framework. It aspires to control not merely spiritual life but all aspects of society, including economic matters. The purpose of SCF is to advance that mission in two important ways.
    First, SCF legitimizes the incorporation of sharia into our legal system, despite the fact that many features of Islamic law are anti-constitutional. That is, once sharia governance is accepted in principle, Islamists shrewdly figure the skids are greased for imposing sharia tenets on other aspects of our national life (e.g., domestic relations, employment matters, criminal law, etc.). Second, because sharia is a discriminatory system, SCF promotes Islamist ideology and enriches Muslims at the expense of non-Muslims by controlling investments and “purging” interest.
    Companies that practice SCF, including AIG, retain advisory boards of sharia experts. These boards, which often include Islamist ideologues, tell the companies which investments are permissible (halal) and which are not (haram). AIG’s “Shariah Supervisory Committee” includes a Pakistani named Imran Ashraf Usmani, who is the son and student of Taqi Usmani, a top cleric (a “mufti”) and a globally renowned sharia-finance authority. The mufti is author of a book that features a chapter urging Muslims in the West to engage in jihad against the countries in which they live.
    In the insurance business, those who purchase policies pay premiums, which insurers like AIG then invest. To be sharia-compliant, investments must not be made in enterprises Islam forbids, e.g., finance (because it makes money off interest, which sharia prohibits), pork, gambling, alcohol, etc. Sounds harmless enough . . . except forbidden enterprises would also include businesses that support or otherwise work with the U.S. armed forces. Islamists consider our military to be an “infidel force” that is “at war with Islam.”
    Because sharia bars interest (although it permits “profits” that Islamic authorities, in their infinite wisdom, deem reasonable), SCF requires that investments be constantly monitored and that any interest payments be purged. This is done by skimming off a percentage that is then channeled — at the direction of the advisory board — to an Islamic “charity.” Of course, as no one knows better than the Treasury Department, many such charities are merely fronts for the financing of terrorist organizations. This is not an accident. When Sheikh Qaradawi speaks of “financial jihad” as an Islamic obligation, he’s not kidding: In Islamist ideology, funding those who “fight in Allah’s cause” — e.g., Hamas — is one of the eight categories of permissible zakat, the Muslim obligation of almsgiving.
    So, an American company that practices SCF is, wittingly or not, advancing the jihadist agenda: It will deny financing to enterprises that help our military combat terrorists while running the risk that its sharia advisers will steer funding to those same terrorists. That aside, the portrayal by President Obama and others of zakat as “charitable giving” is a misconception. According to the most influential Islamic authorities, zakat can be given only to Muslims. It is not an extension of one’s hand to the world’s most needy; it is an insular duty to fortify the ummah, the notional Islamic nation. Consequently, the purging of interest is nothing more than a redistribution of wealth from non-Muslims to Muslims.
    Like many bad ideas, SCF was vigorously promoted by the academy, particularly Harvard under then-president Lawrence Summers (former Clinton Treasury secretary and now National Economic Council director) and law-school dean Elena Kagan (Obama’s recently confirmed nominee to the Supreme Court). The Harvard scholars behind SCF were Samuel Hayes of the business school and Frank Vogel, director of the law school’s “Islamic legal studies” program. In 1998, Vogel and Hayes co-authored the seminal SCF textbook, Islamic Law and Finance: Religion, Risk, and Return.
    The book relates that “the structure of Islamic finance is firmly rooted in the Qur’an and the teachings of Muhammad.” SCF, unabashedly, is the promotion of Islam. Its “central tenets” lie in “the religious law of Islam concerning commercial dealings.” Its advisory boards are there “to review all proposed transactions for conformity with religious law.” Indeed, the authors concede, “the raison d’etre for the practice of Islamic finance is undeniably religious.”
    Moreover, given that Islam is not merely a religion but a comprehensive social system that rejects the separation of the spiritual realm from secular matters, SCF is necessarily a political mission. Hayes and Vogel state without apology that “the surge in Islamic banking and finance is part of the much larger phenomenon of Islamic reassertion.” SCF is “an assertion of religious law in the area of commercial life, where secularism rules almost unquestioned throughout the rest of the world.” It quite intentionally challenges both “the presumption that modern commercial mores are per se more efficient or otherwise superior” and “the secular separation of commerce from consideration of religion and piety.”
    That is a big problem for AIG under Uncle Sam’s management. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause has been construed to bar government action (including government underwriting of action) that is “pervasively sectarian.” Under our jurisprudence, the state is forbidden to act if its “secular purposes” are “inextricably intertwined” with a “religious mission,” as the Supreme Court put it in Bowen v. Kendrick (1988). SCF is Islamic proselytism, and our law prohibits the “active involvement of the sovereign in religious activity” — so said the high court in Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971).
    The Thomas More Law Center has filed a lawsuit against Secretary Geithner and the Treasury Department, seeking to shut down AIG’s SCF business while that business is owned by the taxpayers. In response, the Obama administration has hilariously denied that SCF is really an “Islamic religious activity.” Someone will need to break that news to Professor Hayes, the guy who wrote that “the raison d’etre for the practice of Islamic finance is undeniably religious.” When the Treasury Department co-hosted a Harvard SCF seminar less than two years ago, it chose none other than Hayes to preside.
    Treasury also counters that the public money used for AIG’s SCF programs is trivial. That is specious. Geithner has committed $70 billion of our money to AIG. Of this amount, the lawsuit has demonstrated that nearly $1 billion was poured directly into AIG’s SCF businesses, and billions more are available for diversion. How much public money is actually promoting sharia finance may be impossible to say with certainty. AIG jointly operates many of its branch offices, using consolidated accounting and non-segregated bank accounts. Neither the government nor AIG has ever issued any regulations or created any firewalls to prevent American taxpayer money from underwriting SCF activities.
    The Obama administration could have suspended AIG’s promotion of sharia finance in order to protect constitutional norms. But, of course, if it were interested in constitutional norms, it would neither be running private companies nor embracing Islamists and their law. So congratulations: You get to fund the jihad, while the jihad gets to target you.

  • Anosh

    At an Iftar dinner in the White House, Barack Hussein Obama proclaimed that he supports the building of the Ground Zero mosque as part of his “unshakable commitment to religious freedom”. Which of course sounds very noble and good, until you ask a single question, Where is the religious freedom in the Muslim world?
    Obama has made the case for Islam in America, on the grounds that America’s religious diversity promotes the religious freedom of all. Islam no less than any other belief system. Yet if introducing Islam into America promotes religious freedom, then why is there no religious freedom in the Muslim world? Why are churches firebombed in Malaysia because Christians presumed to use the word Allah? Why are non-Muslims forbidden to enter the city of Mecca, from which Jews and Christians were ethnically cleansed by Mohammed? Why are Coptic Christians being oppressed and humiliated by the Egyptian government? Why are Muslims murdering Buddhist teachers in Thailand? There are a thousand examples, all of which add up to a single conclusion– Muslims demand religious freedom, yet are not willing to give it to others.
    This has ominous implications for the prospects of religious freedom in America. Nor is this a theoretical issue. Jews are fleeing European cities in record numbers because of Muslim persecution. The recent case of Malmo, highlights the fact that Islam actually threatens religious diversity. Simply to protect themselves, Malmo’s 650 Jews were forced to spend half a million Kronor a year. The situation is much the same across Europe, as Jewish institutions are forced to become fortresses. What the Nazis did not succeed in accomplishing in Europe, the rise of Islam seems to be doing.
    Nor are Christians safe, they are simply in the majority for now. But Christians and other religions were once in the majority in the Middle East. Until they were massacred and repressed by the tidal wave of Islam. Today the religions that were once a majority, whether it is Jews in Israel, Christians in Byzantium or Zoroastrians in Persia, have become oppressed minorities. Some may take comfort in the notion that “It can’t happen here.” But the fate of Europe’s Jews, shows that it can happen here. And that it is happening here.
    Religious freedom requires that the religions which enjoy it, agree to tolerate each other. If they do not, instead of religious freedom, there is a religious war.
    Looking at the religious map of the world today, Islam has grown in non-Muslim countries, while non-Muslims continue to dwindle in Muslim countries. And even the number of non-Muslim religious believers in non-Muslim countries dwindles, when Muslims are introduced into the equation. If Islam were a fish in a fish tank, it’s clear that it would be a piranha. If you put it into the fish tank, very soon you have a lot of Islamic piranhas and only a handful of other fish that survive, only because the piranhas need to keep some of them alive in order to feed on them. If you don’t like that picture, take an honest look at the Muslim world, with its dominant Muslim caste and inferior non-Muslims living in the cracks of their walls, and draw a better one.
    The question is do we want to import this into the United States? Because history and current events show that there is no better way to insure the end of religious freedom in the United States, than to introduce Islam into the picture. Over and over again, the rise of Islam has meant the eradication of religious freedom. And those who fail to learn from that past, will be doomed to repeat it.
    Obama attempted to position his remarks as being against religious intolerance, but yet he spoke in defense of religious intolerance. Because what greater act of religious intolerance could there than building a mosque in a place where Muslims had previously murdered 3000 Americans? Nor are such actions unique on the part of Muslims, who have routinely hijacked other people’s sacred areas and structures to make a statement about Islamic supremacism. If Islam were truly as tolerant as Obama claims, its adherents would not attempt to build a massive mosque complex that they do not actually need in this place.
    And what of the Iftar dinner itself which Obama spoke at. The Iftar dinner is the nightly break in the fast of Ramadan. And what is Ramadan? It commemorates the revelation of the first verses of the Koran to Mohammed. And those first verses of the Koran conclude with, “Guide us the straight way, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians).” That same verses appears in the daily prayers of Muslims.
    Seen in that light, Ramadan marks the beginning of Islam’s intolerance for other religions, as embodied in its scriptures. When Muslims schools teach pupils that Jews are apes and Christians are pigs, they are relying on the wellspring of hate already in the Koran. A non-Muslim country holding an event to mark any aspect of Ramadan is as mad as sheep celebrating their own slaughter.
    Let’s look at how some of the participants in Obama’s Iftar dinner embody that famous Islamic tolerance. There is Hassan Jaber, Executive Director of ACCESS. “ACCESS paid for commercial driving lessons and attempts at hazardous material hauling certificates for two men convicted as part of the Detroit Al-Qaeda sleeper cell. Testimony at their trial revealed that the men planned to bomb the MGM Grand Casino and a host of other prominent US sites.” (Debbie Schlussel). Access has funded a conference at which Sami Al Arian, of Islamic Jihad, spoke. There’s also Ingrid Mattson, who is against any reform of Islam and places loyalty to Islam before America. There’s MPAC’s Salam Al Marayat, who has defended Hezbollah who has been described as having “disturbing sympathies for Islamic terrorists”. Dalia Mogahed, an apologist for Sharia law and the subjugation of women. And those are only some of the names in attendance.
    Finally let’s turn to Obama’s own enthusiasm for religious freedom. That enthusiasm was markedly absent when Caplin and Drysdale lawyers were intimidating conservative. churches. They even intimidated Jewish non-profit groups who wanted Palin to speak at an Anti-Ahmadinejad rally, by threatening their tax exempt status. Mortimer Caplin was a major supporter of Obama, and part of Obama for America. But Obama was not upset when his supporters were silencing the religious freedom of Christians and Jews.Which suggests that his “Unshakable Commitment to Religious Freedom” is actually rather shaky indeed. And appears to be reserved for Muslims. Which would reaffirm what Obama himself said in his own book; “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction”.
    His endorsement of the Ground Zero mosque is another case of Obama standing “with the Muslims” and against Americans of all other faiths, who want the freedom to practice their religion in peace without harassment, persecution and violence from the followers of Islam, who believe that all other religions are invalid, and that all forms of government and law that are not governed by the Koran, have no right to exist.
    Religious Freedom must be defended, from all those who would take it away. The history of Islam is the history of genocide, oppression and ethnic cleansing practiced by Muslims against non-Muslims. Islam is the death blow to religious diversity and freedom. And nowhere better is that seen than Mecca, a city that was once a mecca for different religions, which is now barred to all but Muslims. Mecca is the Muslim ideal. And it exemplifies what they hope to accomplish.
    Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the Imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, has praised terrorism saying “Allahu Akbar! These are signs of victory: Jihad has remained the only wining card and the light of hope in the hands of those sincere people among the Ummah”. He has called Jews “scum of the earth” and “rats of the world”, Christians, “cross-worshipers” and filled with “rotten ideas and poisonous culture” and had similarly charming things to say of Hindus. This is how the world looks from Mecca, the heart of Islam. And this is why Islam and religious freedom are incompatible.
    Obama concluded his remarks by saying: “And we can only achieve “liberty and justice for all” if we live by that one rule at the heart of every great religion, including Islam — that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” But that is not the rule at the heart of Islam. And this is not the first time that he has tried to sell that particular lie. But Islam never equates Muslims with non-Muslims, as Obama pretends it does. Its offer of brotherhood is only open to fellow Muslims. Its tolerance is only for fellow Muslims. And that is at the heart of the problem. And it is why the rise of Islam means the end of liberty and justice for all. To stand for liberty and justice is to take a stand against Islamic bigotry.

  • Ajay

    Al-Qaeda Operative Says Ground Zero Mosque “Terrible” Location for Recruitment

  • Frank

    President Obama needs us Christians to pray for his soul.

  • Khaled

    These Americans are very racists because they do not want to build an Islamic center. These Americans are fascists because they are against tolerance and religious freedom. All Muslims are shocked because of this racism. Muslims respect any American who supports the idea of building an Islamic center in any site in America.

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