New York Gov. David Paterson has sought to be a peacemaker in the viral dispute over building an Islamic center near ground zero, suggesting the mosque be moved a few blocks farther away and even offering state land for a new site. But the hapless Paterson can never seem to escape his penchant for self-inflicted wounds -- a habit on display in this week's report that he may be investigated for perjury in connection with a probe over World Series tickets, and a habit that was reinforced with news of his unfortunate efforts to characterize different types of Muslims.
Entries from August 2010
According to Hussein Rashid, a professor at Hofstra University and contributor to Religion Dispatches, thinks Muslims have rallied around the constitutional rights of those planning Park 51. But he thinks the Cordoba Initiative has failed to convert that passion into a support for the project itself.
“I still don't think they've done it,” he said. “I think we're hearing different things -- and not wildly different things, but just enough inconsistencies that it keeps raising questions, from the Twitter feed to the FAQ on their website and their TV appearances.”
But Hussein Rashid, a professor of religion at Hofstra, was stunned by the governor’s remarks.“I think Gov. Paterson is firmly in the percentage of the American population that admits it knows nothing about Islam. His simple statements about Suffis being good Muslims as opposed to whom, people who aren’t Suffis?” Rashin [sic] said.
Others point out that whatever you think about the controversy, which in some respects has become global, there's hardly even a project. What you have really is a developer who owns a building and a Imam with a non-profit and a concept. While the crazies are going on about the project being funded by the Global Anti-American Jihad, Inc., the truth is that it actually isn't funded at all. They haven't started raising money yet. These points have been made in various ways in the Times, Politico and the Post. And here's a post by Hussein Rashid at religiondispatches.org that covers some of the same ground.
But among their many detractors is one that may surprise you. Hussein Rashid, a Muslim, is a professor of religious studies at Hofstra University, an occasional speaker for the Interfaith Alliance and Faith in Public Life organizations, and a blogger over at Religious Dispatches. In a post Friday, he minces no words in arguing against the center's leaders. "There is no indication that they actually know what they are doing on this project, either in terms of building it or running it once it is completed," he writes.
"The fact that the organizers of Park51 did not see Islamophobia as a concern when announcing this proposal is disturbing. It reinforces the idea that they have no vision or leadership," Hofstra University professor and blogger Hussein Rashid wrote Friday. Rauf's supporters fear that a determined peacemaker who could play an important role may wind up destroyed by unrelenting controversy over the very subject he spent his career trying to promote: Islam.
Mosque In Your Neighborhood - blog
The proposed Islamic center near ground zero has spurred intense debate, but it isn't the only U.S. mosque to trigger controversy. From California to Wisconsin, Staten Island to Tennessee, protesters in local communities have said they do not want mosques in their backyard. While proponents of the building projects support their right to worship freely, opponents fear they may draw everything from too much traffic to extremists and terrorists. Tensions often arise from misunderstandings and stereotypes on all sides. Hussein Rashid of Hofstra University, Imam Mohammad of the Islamic Society of Sheboygan, and Asra Nomani of the Daily Beast discuss what fosters conflicts over mosques around the country, and what really goes on in the mosque in your neighborhood.
Link to Podcast
I think, without fail, my favorite part of Ramadan is Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Power. This is the night Muslims believe the Qur’an was revealed, and you spend the entire night in prayer. The chanting of God’s name that I participate in is one of the most powerful experiences I have ever felt. The night falls during the last 10 days of the month, so you haven’t eaten in three weeks and you are up all night reciting the name of God. The Gates of Heaven do feel like they open that night.
So I called him up. He is an adamant defender of the right for the center to be built. “Everyone is talking about the right of religious freedom,” he said of the center. “No one,” he went on, “is talking about what good the center will do.” Once you move past the “mosque” hysteria, it’s fairly easy to learn that Park51 is modeled after other religious centers. The Cordoba Initiative consulted with the Jewish Community Center and hopes to host an interfaith board. “They’ve done a really good job of getting interfaith support,” Hussein continued, “but I don’t think they’ve got a lot of intra-faith support.”
“There is some ambivalence within the community,” said Hussein Rashid, a visiting professor of religious studies at Hofstra University who specializes in Islam in America. “We still want to know who is going to be involved in this. So far, we have heard from just a few Muslim voices. If this is meant to be a community center, who in the community will be involved?”