Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Brody's Scribbles... Jamil K. Mroue: Fathom The Faith At Ground Zero

Jamil K. Mroue is the Publisher & Editor-In-Chief of the major middle-eastern daily newspaper, The Daily Star, published in Beirut, Lebanon. Mroue is a graduate of The American University of Beirut as well as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Mroue is a respected journalist and editor with over 40 years experience reporting on political and middle-eastern affairs.
The following is Mroue's editorial published in today's edition of The Daily Star, regarding the controversy over a planned Islamic cultural centre & mosque in New York City's Financial District neighborhood near the site of the former Twin-Towers destroyed in the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001:

By Jamil K. Mroue (Beirut, Lebanon) AUG 17 | While we commend US President Barack Obama for taking the right stance on the mosque proposed for Ground Zero, the furious aligning of supporters and opponents obscures the vastly more important point about the plan: the last thing that Islam needs is another mosque.
Islam would benefit far more from the $100 million slated for the project if the amount would create an Islamic culture center, opening the heritage, scientific discoveries, manuscripts, history and artifacts of the religion to a wide public.
In Islam, a place of worship is any place where Muslims congregate; if the faith’s adherents are willing to contribute $100 million toward furthering Islam, this immense sum could do wonders for Islam if it went for the presentation of the arts and culture of the religion.
Plans for the project – known as Park51 for its location on Park Place – call for performance and exhibition spaces, but millions of dollars could produce so much more than the weight room, swimming pool and basketball court also in the works.
An Islamic center near Ground Zero should educate the world about Islamic societies and traditions; a proper exhibit would have holograms of the art and scientific instruments created through Islam. The $100 million would suffice to translate and put on the internet all the major documents in the history of the religion. The money could establish a network of Islamic scholarship and projects to teach others about the religion.
Simply put, Islam desperately needs a center in a place like New York which would make the faith accessible to the non-Muslims often so ill-informed about Islam. The Ground Zero site offers a unique opportunity to show – with cutting-edge interactivity, design and exhibits – that Osama bin Laden is not a part of Islam.
Park51 should become a space for the dissemination of knowledge about Islam for tourists, walk-in visitors and students.Islam has been grievously misunderstood, and we envision Park51 as a place of education about the religion – and yes, at such a site forever linked to Islam, not behind the gates of academia.
The essence of what the Ground Zero mosque should become is contained in the first word spoken to Mohammad by God: Read. The Arabic word also means a command to think, to fathom.
Islam needs the non-Muslim world to fathom the faith, not to throw up a minaret. Islam does not need to erect a symbol near Ground Zero, but to construct a functioning locus of education; not a place of ritual, but of deeds to truly serve the faith.

Jamil K. Mroue, Editor-in-Chief of THE DAILY STAR, can be reached at jamil.mroue@dailystar.com.lb