On the post-9/11 Muslim American experience and the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy.
In December 2009, Feisal Abdul Rauf, a prominent imam, Sufi shaykh, and the internationally recognized leader of the Cordoba Initiative, announced plans to open Cordoba House, a thirteen-story Islamic community center in Manhattan. The proposed center was to be built on a location two blocks from the World Trade Center site. Though designed to educate Americans about the truths Islam shares with other faiths and to exemplify “moderate Islam”—something Rauf had spent nearly a decade promoting—the proposed center was quickly embroiled in debate that eventually became known as the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy.
After 9/11 both local leaders and international elites had widely praised Rauf’s core message, delivered at his mosque, in his public appearances, and in his 2004 book, What’s Right with Islam. That message emphasizes Islam’s place within an ethical tradition originating with Abraham (the biblical patriarch common to Judaism and Christianity). Further, it holds that of all the governments in the world, American liberal democracy best embodies this ethic in social form. Because US multiculturalism, pluralism, and “democratic capitalism” are expressions of the “Abrahamic” ethic, Rauf argues, US laws and institutions comply with Islamic law (shari‘ah). Consequently, non-Muslim American can accept Muslims as Abrahamic siblings, while Muslim Americans can promote American liberal values and social systems worldwide.
Because US multiculturalism, pluralism, and “democratic capitalism” are expressions of the “Abrahamic” ethic, Rauf argues, US laws and institutions comply with Islamic law (shari‘ah).