Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind Cordoba House, the giant mosque and Islamic cultural center planned just two blocks from Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, speaks of tolerance. Yet he promotes one of the most intolerant sociopolitical systems on the planet: Shari'a law.
In 2009, Rauf's organization, the Cordoba Initiative, launched a program to measure how closely various nations conform to Shari'a. An article quotes him musing about the criteria to be applied:
What are the principles that make a state Islamic? We can say among them is justice, protection of religion and minorities, and elimination of poverty, and so on.
Interestingly, the rest of the piece is far more open about what Shari'a actually entails, citing such freedom-crushing derivatives as outlawing religious satire and criminalizing adultery.
Three possibilities: 1) Rauf believes that Shari'a is all flowers and rainbows and that modern-day Islamic states exhibit Western-style justice, protection, etc.; 2) he thinks the same of Shari'a, but maintains that Iran, Sudan, etc. have failed because their version of it is corrupted; or 3) he knows the unsavory truth about Shari'a and consciously dissimulates. None is comforting: the first two qualify as self-delusion; the third, as taqiyya. Place your money on the second or third.
Of course, any of them could explain his assertion that principles underlying the Declaration of Independence and secular U.S. law are "similar" to those of Shari'a. Indeed, Rauf argues:
Many Muslims believe that what Americans receive from their government is in fact the very substance of what an Islamic state should provide. American beliefs in individual liberty and the dignity of the individual are Islamic principles as well.
However, Rauf also has spoken of his desire to see Shari'a incorporated more explicitly into Western law. Because British Muslims apparently do not find their "beliefs in individual liberty and the dignity of the individual" sufficiently codified in that benighted country, he supported Archbishop Rowan Williams' 2008 call for adopting aspects of Shari'a. Rauf contends that this is needed to "guarantee more, not fewer, adherents to [the UK's] legal system":
The addition of Shari'a law to "the law of the land," in this case British law, complements, rather than undermines, existing legal frameworks. The archbishop was right. It is time for Britain to integrate aspects of Islamic law.
Whether taqiyya or self-delusion, the bottom line is identical: Rauf loves Shari'a. Added to his claims that U.S. policy provoked 9/11 and Christians invented attacks on civilians, his dubious funding sources, his doubletalk, and so forth, there is reason enough to doubt that Cordoba House will facilitate post-9/11 healing, as he insists — rather than just adding insult to injury.
Yes, the project has momentum. But it is not too late for the mayor and others to hear your voice.