Wouldn’t it be amazing to zigzag across the country, visiting mosques and writing about the people that use them? Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq thought so. Now they are on the second leg of a Ramadan road trip fueled by faith, food, and good old-fashioned male privilege. Recently, in an attempt to explore the gender divide in Muslim places of worship, the duo documented the women’s area of a mosque that hosted them in Little Rock, Arkansas. This could have been a great opportunity for Ali and Tariq to reflect on their privilege. Instead, they chose to exert it over the women they visited, leaving a number of them upset – and rightfully so. Continue reading
Tag Archives: mosque
On September 11th, 2003, as 12 year-old Aasma Razvi prepared for school on a brisk New York morning, her father pulled her to the side.
“You don’t have to worry,” he reassured her. “You had nothing to do with this day.”
In his heart, Mohammad Razvi knew that some Americans saw things differently.
* * * * *
Amidst a cacophony of name-calling, bad analogies and heated accusations, one thing seems to unite people on all sides of the “Ground Zero Mosque” debate: Ground Zero is a sacred place. It is “hallowed ground”, a thousand voices echo. Few would dispute that claim, but what gets lost in the subtext is that some use “hallowed ground” as a description, while for others it represents an argument.
To define a space as sacred is to draw a boundary. Ground Zero has become a quintessential symbol of American identity, and when people cite its sanctity as a reason why no Islamic center should be built nearby, they are making an implicit distinction between “American” and “Muslim”. The two categories are so dramatically incompatible in their minds that the presence of a mosque – or anything resembling one – would be a symbolic defilement of the 9/11 victims and the space they perished in. A “stab in the heart”, as Sarah Palin put it.
In other words: Ground Zero is sacred, and Islam has become a national blasphemy.
Views like this have existed for some time, but only recently did they seep into mainstream political discourse.
As for the Islamic center, dubbed “Park51“, legally preventing Muslims from building it has never been a real possibility. Knowing this, almost every opponent of the project has prefaced their disapproval by agreeing that Muslims do have the right to build mosques wherever they please.
But they shouldn’t build it there… They can, but they ought not to. In the words of the Anti-Defamation League: “ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right.”
It becomes apparent that the primary argument against the Park51 project is not a legal one, but a moral one. It is less about the constitution than it is about national memory. Although scores of Muslim Americans were killed in the 9/11 attacks and millions more shared the shock and sorrow that followed, Muslims have been colored as outsiders to the experience. Their suffering doesn’t count. Continue reading