By Allan Chernoff, CNN Senior Correspondent
New York (CNN) – The wife of the former imam for a controversial Islamic cultural center says she and her husband are considering creating an interfaith cultural center in that facility, a surprising announcement in light of the recent rift between the center's owners and the activist couple.
Daisy Khan discussed the idea at a More Magazine luncheon Tuesday, saying the interfaith center could be housed at the Park51 site - controversial because of its proximity to ground zero, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 - or at another location.
Khan is married to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who was replaced in January as Park51's spiritual leader. In the statement announcing that change, the group also wrote that "Imam Feisal and Daisy Khan will not be speaking on behalf of Park51, nor will they be raising funds for the project."
Khan, who never held any formal position with Park51, did not immediately respond to CNN requests for comment, and a Park51 spokesman had no comment on the matter. Khan is executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement.
Park51, which has faced fierce opposition due to its plans and location, intends to offer cultural, social and recreational programs to serve the Lower Manhattan community in a new building two blocks north of ground zero. The location is currently being used for Islamic prayer services.
The Park51 group expects to announce its first major funding pledges in the coming months and will have new leaders join its board of directors, according to a person close to the project. Sharif El-Gamal, president of Park51, has been lining up support during meetings with potential donors, who are waiting for the organization to receive IRS tax-exempt non-profit status, which would allow contributions to be tax deductible.
What I fear more than a supposed tyrannical religion is ignorance and fear, spread with intolerance; there seems to be a lot of that in many of these comments. As an Interfaith Minister I have studied many religions all over the world. I have participated, prayed, talked, and engaged myself in the subject. I am not Muslim, but I know many that I'm proud to be friends with, many holding the exact same values dear to their heart as I. Yes I have met very conservative Muslims, but no more than I have met conservative Christians and Jews. Strong exclusive will ideas always lead to friction in human relationship; never does it not. Why is this? One answer could be; the expression of human consciousness doesn't tolerate it and yearns to be inclusive, maybe that is ultimately how we discover our own true nature.
Ignorance spreads by portraying others in an evil light, when you have no relationship to it, nothing invested in it. Most watch T.V. and think they know something, while really they are being indoctrinated into a philosophy that allows them to attach their anger and fear on something tangible; thus giving them false hope that they can control and tame the fearful Unknown through hatred, intolerance, separatism and intimidation. You simply become what you fear.
If you want to understand something you must be in relationship to it. It is easy to hate because it takes no time or effort.
Take the effort – be in relationship – then make a comment based on personal experience, not what sensational news tells you to be.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.