The “Mosque at Ground Zero” is a hot topic in the news right now. And personally, I do not have a strong opinion as to whether or not the Muslim Cultural Center should be built two blocks away from ground zero (and one block away from a “gentleman’s club”).
But before Christians complain about its construction, we have to ask ourselves:
Are we loving our enemies?
Are we doing good to those who hate us?
Are we blessing those who curse us?
Are we praying for those who abuse us? (Luke 6:27-28)
Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies except when they are doing something offensive” or “pray for those who abuse you except when they hurt your feelings.”*
It is fine to say that the Muslim Cultural Center shouldn’t be there, or to say that it’s too offensive, or too soon, or too painful. So long as we say those things while expressing the love that Christ demands of us first! I haven’t seen a lot of love in the conversations on the subject. Sometimes loving just means listening to the other side! If people actually opened their ears to listen to those who are trying to found the cultural center, I think the discussion could be much different.
Daisy Khan, the executive director of the American Society of Muslim Advancement, said in 2009 on the O’Reilly Factor: “The closeness of the center to Ground Zero, first and foremost, is a blow to the extremists. And you know we Muslims are really fed up… of having to be defined by the actions of the extremists. You know, we are law abiding citizens, we are faithful people, we are very good Americans, and we need to project a different message of Islam – one of tolerance, love, and the kinds of commonalities we have with other faith communities. The center will be dedicated to promoting what it means to be Muslim, but also, what it means to be American.”
Many Muslims who support the center do so out of a desire to demonstrate that not all Muslims are responsible for 9/11 (just as all Christians were not responsible for the Crusades). While we can argue whether or not this is wise, discussing how it will affect the families of the men and women lost in the attack or the firefighters who died trying to save them, we shouldn’t take offense when we see the spirit behind the building the center. We can discuss rationally and reasonable if it’s a good idea; we can try to figure out a course of action that is charitable and loving and kind to all those involved. Even if they do build the center, Christians must remember Matthew 5: 39 – “But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
I think the best (or at least the most entertaining) piece I’ve read on the subject was from a blog I stumbled across a few of days ago. Courtesy of James Brett, a mother’s take on the situation:
“THAT’S IT! I. have. had. E…NOUGH! I’m sick and tired of you two arguing all the time. You boys are entirely too old to be acting like this.
Islam, you’re 1400 years old and should know better than to wittingly aggravate your brother like this; and your “This is not actually Ground Zero — I’m not touching, I’m not touching” routine is not going to cut it this time, mister.
And you, Christianity, I can’t believe I’m listening to a 2000 year old whine and cry about where someone else wants to play with his toys. This is a shared house, and what do you think gives YOU the right to control where everybody else goes and what they do there?!”
*Note that I don’t think that those who are starting the Center are our enemies or that they hate us. How much easier should it be then, for us to pray for them and love them and bless them?