The God Vote: Imam Feisal Rauf

By Sam Dinger WATCH: “The core principles of Sharia are analogous to the core principles of the Constitution,” says the … Continued

By Sam Dinger

WATCH: “The core principles of Sharia are analogous to the core principles of the Constitution,” says the imam behind the planned Islamic center near Ground Zero. Imam Rauf also talks about his hopes for the Muslim Brotherhood, the revolts in the Middle East and what he thinks of the arguments made by his critics.

With the world’s attention currently fixed on the upheaval in the Middle East, it is easy to forget that only last summer, the most significant debate over Islamic politics and practice was in fact raging within the United States. In question was the fate of a vacant building in Lower Manhattan. Only several blocks away from the former World Trade Center, this building was the proposed site of Park51, a Muslim community center.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, this week’s guest on The God Vote with Sally Quinn and Jacques Berlinerblau was at the center of the controversy surrounding Park51. Imam Rauf was the chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, an organization dedicated to “improving understanding and building trust among people of all cultures and faith traditions.” The Park51 community center was a cornerstone of this project. It was intended – like a Muslim version of a YMCA or a Jewish Community Center – as a place where people of faith could gather together for socializing, entertainment, and worship.

Yet the proximity of the proposed center to Ground Zero struck a raw nerve in the American political conscience. Prominent figures including Newt Ginhrich and Sarah Palin denounced the project as the “Ground Zero Mosque”. Right-wing pundits accused Imam Rauf of seeking to construct a “victory mosque” to “commemorate a great [Islamic] victory over the United States on 9/11.” And even many moderate critics argued that the project was distasteful, given its location. After facing such sustained criticism, Rauf admitted in his Sept. 8 interview with Larry King:

Lost in the debate over the “Ground Zero Mosque” was the fact that Imam Rauf had become an indispensable voice for moderate American Muslims, sent by both Presidents Bush and Obama to be an American ambassador to Muslim nations.

Although he is no longer the chief religious figure behind the Park51 project, he continues to use his platform to advance his belief that Islam and the West are reconcilable.


Sam Dinger is a student in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, majoring in International Politics and Arab Studies. He serves as the Research Supervisor for The God Vote.

By Sam Dinger  | 
March 1, 2011; 7:07 PM ET


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  • WmarkW

    “The core principles of Sharia are analogous to the core principles of the Constitution,”That’s not what this website says: The Islamic Demolition of the Statue of LibertyOne of the founding principles of the Islamic constitution is to ensure that all sovereignty and supremacy belongs solely to God;The Statue of Liberty… is symbolic of the rebellious nature of the US constitution that elevates the command of man over the command of God.thus as a temporary measure, it is proposed THAT A LARGE BURKHA IS USED TO COVER THE STATUE, thereby shielding this horrendous eye sore from public view as well as sending a strong message to its French creators.

  • persiflage

    I’ve got three words for Muslims who immigrate to the USA:ASSIMILATE! ASSIMILATE! ASSIMILATE! Forget Sharia Law in America – it ain’t going to happen.

  • Sara121

    Sharia law is no more constitutional than bible law. Someone should send him a good thick book on James Madison, the First Amendment, and the no establishment clause.

  • YEAL9

    In 2003, Rauf founded the Cordoba Initiative, another registered nonprofit organization with offices in both New York and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As CEO of Cordoba Initiative, Rauf coordinates projects that supposedly emphasize the bonds that connect the Muslim world and the West.Typically, CEO’s and founders of “non-profits” pay themselves ~$200,000/yr. So that would mean that the topic imam and his wife make about $400,000/yr so why do the US taxpayers pay for this guy’s expenses when he is out trying to “improve” Muslim relations by building offensive mosques and collecting contributions to do so? Is that not a function of his group and therefore charged to them? And how is this topic imam able to declare his “non-profit” a church thereby freeing him from filing a Form 990 so we can see exactly where he is getting his support and who he supports with said funds?We await the imam’s response!!!

  • IN_IT_WE_TRUST

    .

  • Sajanas

    I’m sorry, but these reassurances ring hollow to me. Sharia laws (and there are four different versions) are unalterable stuff derived from the Koran (the unalterable word of God) and the Hadith by Islamic scholars 1,200 years ago or there about, and has not been changed since. The Constitution was agreed upon by men, and has been altered quite a bit since its inception.These two are not the same, and a country of free people cannot allow itself to be governed by unalterable divine laws. This should not even be a debate. At best, Muslims should be able to use the aspects of Sharia that conform to their private lives without interfering with their human rights, just like anyone else, but with the recognition that we won’t allow people to use their religion to step on the human rights of others.

  • eezmamata

    sharia law is based on one particular god fantasy, no more real or less imaginary than any other.The constitution says we are a nation of laws, it has nothing to do with your ridiculous gods. Sharia has less chance than dominionism in our country — which we are already resisting.Really, claiming this sharia crap has any similarity to the reason used to create our constitution is as insulting as any christian revisionism. Take your sharia, your religion, and shove it.

  • WmarkW

    I’m still really clueless about what bringing Sharia to the US is supposed to mean in practical application.Muslims have every right to pray five times a day, fast during Ramadan, abstain from alcohol and hajj to Mecca. On the other hand, no implementation of Sharia is going to permit beating your wife, divorcing her by saying it three times, or allow using “her hair wasn’t covered and there aren’t four witnesses” as a rape defense.So what exactly ARE you trying to bring?

  • jameschirico

    The Iman would do well to address the so called muslim countries that sin against the Holy Quran. Religious belief should not be coerced yet forced conversion occurs in most muslim countries. Their courts should be fiar treating Ulema and people of the book the same but that rarely happens. Knowledge should be passed on to better mankind but acid is thrown at schoolgirls with their madrassahs burned down when mothers are best able to pass knowledge to children. The fake muhadideen that sinfully bomb churches, mosques, kill innocents believer or not are sinners yet they call themselves Jihadists (the struggle to expand Islam) when they do the opposite giving non-believers the view it is a religion of terror. In the 70s Islam was the fastest growing religion in America, today probably the slowest.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Many of us see in the Constitution of USA the right to change our own religion or to renounce it. Any Muslim doing so is told that he/she will be punished in the afterlife. What a big diffence!

  • WmarkW

    I wonder why instead of talking about Sharia law, why don’t moderate Muslims like Rauf talk more about how they’d like use the intellectually free environment of the USA to improve the quality of Islamic scholarship.At my local public library, the Christianity section includes excellent secular works like Bart Ehrman describing the different theological perspectives of the New Testament, Richard Friedman textually deconstructing the Tanakh, Israel Finkelstein doing archaelogical research into the period,William Dever historically re-interpreting his findings, and a few “the bible as literature” titles talking about literary genres of the period.The Islam section contains one decent work of historical research by Ibn Warraq, a critical hit piece by Robert Spencer, and the rest of it is like the stuff in a Christian “family” bookstore — The Holy Quran is the eternal, inerrant, literal Word of God, and what your obligations are to obey it.

  • abrahamhab1

    The imam assertsThe Sharia sums all worldly authority in the hands of one man considered as successor of the prophet and his caliphs. This man answers only to Allah, which means to no one and could not be opposed even if he was an absolute tyrant. He is free to oppress his people and his people are free to subjugate and oppress women and religious minorities. These are the core elements of the Sharia. Is that “analogous to the USA Constitution?

  • spaded_glory4

    People supporting these Muslims are ignorant and will be responsible for the fall of society and our great nation as we know it. I don’t even want to be an “American” anymore, with ignorant retards supporting people from a nation and of beliefs that are anti-american. No wonder we get bombed, folks. We’re targets because we’re absolutely too freaking stupid to live.

  • Rongoklunk

    Islam has a better chance of catching on in America than it does anywhere else, because America is already religious,Europe presents more of a problem to Islam. But because Islam is making more babies than anyone else – they are on course to win out over there too, even though atheism is the norm in Europe.Before the end of this century Islam will rule in the US and most of the rest of the world. I’m glad I will not be around to see it.

  • WmarkW

    What does Sharia’s compatibility with the Constitution have to do with anything?I don’t see Jews arguing whether Kosher is compatible with the Constitution; they just use the umbrella of our First Amendment to practice it privately, like most Americans do.What, in practical terms, is bringing Sharia to America supposed to do that any Muslim can’t just do themselves; unless it implies violating American laws like marrying an 11 year old?

  • StewartIII

    NewsBusters| Ground Zero Imam: There Was No ‘Defensible Opposition to Us’

  • shewholives

    Imam Rauf is a slumlord, a fraud and so is his wife Daisy. Whatever they say assume it is taqiyya.

  • shewholives

    Hey Georgetown University, you just received a lot of money from Saudi Arabia. It’s not surprising you are writing this ridiculous article. You don’t mention why Imam Rauf is no longer invovled with the project. I guess you don’t want to mention his problems with paying taxes to NY and how he is a slumlord. That would get in the way of your narritive. How’s John Esposito these days? Glad to see there are more useful idiots living off those Saudi petrodollars.

  • Catken1

    “Many of us see in the Constitution of USA the right to change our own religion or to renounce it. Any Muslim doing so is told that he/she will be punished in the afterlife. What a big diffence [sic]“Any Christian who changes or renounces his religion is told that he/she will be punished in the afterlife, too. It’s a common tool of religions to maintain control over their followers. Duh. No one has the right to tell a Muslim they may not follow their religious laws, unless those laws conflict with the secular law and/or interfere with someone else’s legal rights. And no Muslim has the right to use the secular law to force their beliefs on others. Same goes for Christian laws, Buddhist laws, Jewish laws, etc. That’s called “freedom of religion” and it is our best defense against any sort of religious tyranny.

  • gershwin2009

    “The core principles of Sharia are analogous to the core principles of the Constitution,”That imam lives is delusional. Sharia law is nothing like the United States Constitution, NOTHING like it! Simple example: I’m an atheist and, under sharia law, I should be put to death, plain and simple. Where in the US constitution does it say that I should be put to death because I’m an atheist?Sharia and the US Constitution are NOTHING alike, absolutely nothing. That imam is a delusional fool.

  • Nymous

    There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference between whacky Christians and whacky Muslims. Except, in America, the Christians blow more stuff up & kill more people. Funny how they both worship the same god.Most of the comments on this column are flat out insane.

  • DwightCollins

    hey sally, are you gonna love sharia or what…

  • 27anon72

    quick question-

  • 27anon72

    I am curious to see whetehr this comment survivesa screen and is posted- my prvious bya few minutes comment which mada quiet mild unoffensive poit seems to have disappeared!

  • 27anon72

    I will give up after this try but it will be the third posting ina row the 2 and 3 asking what happened to the first-none of them typos aside could have been considered offensive under any standard

  • rebertino

    Perhaps true that the Sharia and the Constitution have similarities. But there is a fatal flaw. The Sharia, as promulgated in all 4 major schools of Sunni law, has the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy. Pretty hard to reconcil that with our First Amendment which guarantees freedom of speech and religion.

  • rat_race_escapee

    Sharia Law is what most Muslim immigrants to the U.S. come here to get away from. They know, however, from a thousand year history of repression not to speak out against it.Sharia Law is an assault against Western Civilizational values.

  • cadam72

    Sharia Law is what most Muslim immigrants to the U.S. come here to get away from. They know, however, from a thousand year history of repression not to speak out against it.

  • Christian1941

    How many Muslim countries allow freedom for Christians to practice their religion? How many Christians have died for practicing their religion and are currently being persecuted for their beliefs. Isn’t it odd that the USA allows Muslims freedom to practice their religion but Muslims will kill Christians for practicing their religion and even talking about Christianity to a Muslim? How many Christians will strap a bomb on one of their children to blow up Muslims and how many Muslims will strap a bomb on one of their children to blow up the Christian infidel? Until Muslims love their children more than they hate what they consider infidels, nothing will change. At least for the time being, we can feel blessed to be in the USA to practice Christianity…I’m just not sure how long we’ll be able to do so.

  • LeeH1

    Any two or more Americans can voluntarily live under any form of justice they want. It can apply to any contracts between adults, marriage agreements, personal relationships in business, anything they want.Except: Volunatary agreements, such as an agreement to abode by Sharia law, can’t take rights away from people; can’t affect another’s life or liberty; and can’t apply to those who do not volunatarily agree to the rules.It is those areas where they can’t control others under sharia law that supporters want to rule. They want to take away those rights under western law, in order to put in new rules and new laws that actually do affect life and liberty. I wish someone who supports sharia will tell us where Sharia differs from American jurisprudence, and why this law would be better.As far as I know, Sharia law, agreed to by all Muslims, doesn’t exist. The differences between tribes and customs are greater than the underlying laws themselves. So if they want to ipose Sharia law, I wihs they wuld tell us which Sharia law they want.

  • Jimmy371

    I don’t believe a single word Muslims tell the Western word, especially not clerics. They say one thing in Arabic and another in their host country’s language to appease the listener.Since Muslims believe in constant jihad until a worldwide caliphate is established, and Mohammad told Muslims to lie to infidels (us) to get their objectives accomplished, this interview is worthless.

  • rschroeder1

    If we are going to limit the rights of Muslims to practice their religion because some sects of Islam believe in establishing a global caliphate, then we should limit the rights of Christians to practice their religion, because there are most definitely sects of Christianity–the Dominionists, for example–who believe in establishing a Christian-controlled world.

  • EarlC

    The Moslem community center near Ground Zero was a non-issue until the I-want-to-be-in-the-news radical politicians decided to make it an issue. America has been outed for blatant hypocrisy to the the world thanks to the blatant hypocrites Newt and Sarah, to name a few.The American Muslims are now becoming the American Japanese of the 1940s. For some reason, America is on this kick that someone else must be to blame for our own inadequacies and poor politics. It was our stupid decision to go to war in Iraq, when the only real culprit for 9/11 was a group of terrorists located in Afghanistan. We adopted a policy of pre-emption thanks to the neocons. Thanks to their irrational thoughts and behaviors, we are in the real mess that we are now. Of course, there are two major avenues for resolving issues that exist between groups of American citizens: hostility or mutual respect. Based on everything that I have seen in the past three years, Republicans and teapartiers prefer hostility.

  • boneyparte

    One thing to be learned from the U.S. invilvement in the Middle East is that for Islamists lying is a tool and not a forbidden practice. If lying was forbidden many Arab immigrants in the U.S. would not have been allowed in because of past crimes and hidden income that was not reported as required. Come to Dearborn MI to get a glimpse of what life could be like in Newark or Queens. A majority of perfectly wonderful Americans of Arab descent are brow-beaten and bullied by socially active who gather groups to attack and protest all non-Muslim politicians, representatives and candidates. The number of wealthy foreign-born Muslims in Michigan who report no imcome, pay no taxes and receive S.S. and welfare benefits is beyond belief. I hoe their children grow up as Americans of Western value instead of like the Somali kids in Minn. who flew off for training in Afghanistan.

  • EarlC

    Posted by: LeeH1 | March 7, 2011 11:54 AM_ _ _ _ Perhaps LeeH1 knows the answer to the question that he poses above. The way that he asks it suggests the answer in the negative.I know that Saudi Arabia is the only Moslem country that is the most hostile to the practice of any religion other than Islam. Before we launched our war against Iraq, Iraq was open to other faiths including Christians. Christianity is openly practiced in Iran, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and on and on. It is our own limited knowledge and propaganda that leads us to believe that Christians do no exist in Arab, or Muslim (Moslem), countries. A steady diet of the propaganda spewed daily by the ultraconservative right wing has just about converted us into a radical country similar to those we say that we hate. We say that we are a Christian nation, but our actions prove otherwise. Our hateful speech, our warmongering, and our fearmongering are as far from Christian priciples as they can be. If I were to live next door to a Mosque, it would not bother me. As a practicing Christian, I am bothered more by the blatant hostility that is shown by many of my Christian brothers and sisters for the millions of other human beings whom God created also. Before we look at other countries where Christians are persecuted, let’s look at our own. Many of our own Christians are being persecuted by other Christians. Our politics have become so vulgar and hateful that Christians do not even speak to each other. There are Christians along the whole spectrum of American politics, yet I dare say that lack of civility has finally become a topic of active discussion. For me as a Christian, give me a competent secular government operated by ethical people and I’ll be very happy. I do not want many of the Christians that I associate with having anything to do with government. It is sad that they can vote. However, this is the way things are set up in our democratic replublic.

  • greenstheman

    The US contitution and Sharia law are not compatible in principle or otherwise, that’s just a lie period. If you live in the US then you have to abide by the laws in this country, if you want to live under Sharia law there are plenty countries that can accomodate you.We are a sovereign republic and don’t need to abide by other countries standars of law, our courts are giving up our sovereign rights as americans if they make ruling using international law as a basis to rule on cases here in the US, that has to stop.

  • thebloddletting

    Do NOT believe any of the smooth talk from these Imams. Islam attempts to subdue EVERY nation unto itself. It is a cancer on the face of this Earth. I pray for Armageddon, because we know who the enemy is and it IS islam.Just look at the news on a daily basis to see the murder, the stonings of women, the killings, the fear-mongering, the hatred that is spewed out by this religion. It happens daily.Do NOT believe that islam is anything but a perversion of a religion.They like to bring up christianity and how it murdered, blah, blah, blah…Here’s the kicker….Christianity went through a period of self-reflection and corrected itself. It still has issues, but it doesn’t go around blowing people up, killing women in the name of Allah, porking young girls because Allah says you can, burning the flags of countries that are not islam, and frothing at the mouth at every chance to murder in the name of allah (lower case on purpose).islam has some growing up to do, but it won’t because it is the devil’s religion. It is masked in a god, but it’s not any god I want to know about or be subject to. This god is scary, murderous and doesn’t equate women on an equal basis. It is a base and evil religion brought about because some sycophant had epilepsy in the desert and thought he saw the archangel Gabriel. It was the devil. Let’s bring on Armageddon please!

  • Wildthing1

    US sponsored Islam… not likely to be very credible but our intelligence organizations love to partner with religious groups for profit hence the Bin Ladens of the enron millionairess stinger initiative for religous freedom and the enslavement of Afghanistan to multi-national corporate interests. What is being unified in the unifying church? and what we need is the religious freedom of being free from religious interference in our life and secular laws. What to do when the judges look and act like preachers of someone elses religion whose main purpose is to tell us how and when to have sex.

  • zetes

    Can anyone tell me what is the difference between sharia4america.com and shariah4america ?

  • zetes

    this is the right website :

  • jonswitzer

    The commandment is “do not murder”. Modern translations that put “kill” confuse the issue. Killing done by government to bring murderers/rapists to justice is entirely different than murder that kills out of selfishness. Nuance! Wisdom requires sophistication; the simple enjoy folly.

  • jonswitzer

    I hope that history will show us large Muslim communities that embrace liberal democracy. Conservative Christians (as well as liberal Christians) were part of the founding of the world’s first liberal democracy ever and have been some of its strongest proponents ever since. The United States is testament to conservative Christianity being compatible with liberal democracy. We have yet to see a Muslim equivalent. Nevertheless, I yet hope to see it break forth onto the pages of history!

  • jonswitzer

    Conservative Christians (fundamentalist ones) have NEVER followed the Old Testament law. That is Christianity 101. We were set free from the law through Christ’s death and resurrection. Conservative Christians study the Old Testament law to understand how God hates sin and desire us to STOP hurting each other. Nevertheless, NO godly Christian has EVER advocated for applying all the Old Testament law. Of course, many times, in history, Christian imposters have applied cruel laws in the name of Christianity (i.e. inquisition). However, that was ALWAYS understood by true fundamentalist Christians as a clear VIOLATION of Fundamental Christian doctrines of justice and mercy. This is why equating fundamentalist Christians (who were present at the founding of USA’s liberal Democracy and who have been at peace with it for over 200 years world-wide) with fundamentalist Muslims who have yet to develop a modern liberal democracy and who have proven incapable of blending into European Democratic life…this is a glaring and shocking blindness. Such equivocation is beyond the pale. Keep doing it and you will find yourself one day incapable of understanding what made liberal democracies work in the first place. Cameron, Merkl and Sarkozy are appealing for Europe to not allow its liberal democracies to lose their soul to extreme tolerance movements that will not require Muslims to assimilate.

  • Capn0ok1

    The good Immam Rauf might get a little more mileage out of his message if he would get behind rebuilding that Greek Orthodox church that was destroyed on 9-11. If he can’t practice tolerance, he doesn’t deserve any.

  • greatgran1

    Please explain to me how two beautiful sisters were shot and left to bleed to death in the back of a taxi as an honor killing with sharia law supports our Constitution. Why this was not in the middle east but in Texas. Sharia law is barbarism. How dare he compare this to our Constitution. Sharia law supports the stoning of little girls or old woman or worse. This is insanity to give this man a forum for this evil.

  • pgr88

    Rauf is a charlatan. His “Ground Zero” Mosque is a business venture and PR exercise for himself in his target market in the Mid-East.He has learned expertly how to lie, and cover his lies using America’s blind obsession with multi-culturalism and political correctness.

  • morphex

    All churches, whether you call them temples or mosques or sanctuaries, or whatever, are business ventures: if they can’t pay their bills, and their employees, abd their mortgages, they go under. It’s simple, and they tell you as much when they hit you up. And all clergy are charlatans (excepts those few who are frauds and usually get caught). The difference, some of you may wonder? It’s this: the charlatans fall for other people’s lies and find ways to propagate them, and with a good conscience, too. They call it scripture, or book, or the teachings, or whatever. The frauds, though, they know they are lying and therefore unwittingly betray themselves because they think they are so clever. The good shepherd, of whatever stripe, guards his flock, fattens them, fleeces them, and sends them to the abattoir before taking himself to the bank. Worst of all are the martyrs… But don’t get me started.

  • andrew23boyle

    It would be hard to think of something that ran MORE counter to the letter AND spirit of our Republic’s Constitution than the proposition that there be one law for one group of citizens and another law for another group based upon their religious beliefs (or, even worse, those of their parents/family).One law, SECULAR CIVIL LAW, for ALL citizens! This is the ONLY way to ensure equitable and fair treatment (in so far as is humanly possible) to ALL citizens.

  • DwightCollins

    sally, can you imagine wearing a berka and being whipped with a stick…

  • jonswitzer

    Morphex,I apologize for the religious environment that hurt you so severely. It had not right to do so. I am equally angry that you were hurt in such a deep and cruel manner. However, please know that I have a profoundly different experience of religion than you. I wish you had the chance to experience what I have.

  • SavingGrace

    This column is disingenuous propaganda. What an insult to people of every faith. Quinn should just focus on politics–that is her religion.

  • garoth

    A lot of truly stupid comments here. Sharia law can never supplant the laws of the state. The use of Sharia law among Muslims is much like the following of church law (cannon law) by Roman Catholics, Jewish legal codes by Jewish groups, etc. It does not and cannot replace other laws which govern us. Those who talk about Sharia law replacing the laws of the state are blowing smoke and have no idea what they are talking about, but it seems to make good press. I remember when Kennedy was runnig for President (yeah, I’m THAT old), the talk was that our Constitution would be supplanted by Cannon Law, and that the Pope would be ruling the country. Now the talk is of Sharia law. In both cases, it is “a tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying noting.” Get a real life. Preferaby somewhere else.

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