August 23rd, 2010
11:43 AM ET

Imam behind controversial New York Islamic center speaks

Editor's note: CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom files this report from Abu Dhabi

The imam behind the controversial mosque and Islamic center near New York City's ground zero said Sunday that he hopes the project will develop "an Islamic approach that allows for harmony and understanding among all religions and other ideas."

The remarks from Abdul Rauf, who has rarely spoken to the media since his proposal for an Islamic center set off a firestorm of controversy this summer, came while the imam is on a State Department-sponsored trip to the Middle East.

Rauf spoke with the newspaper Bahraini Al Wasat before he was scheduled to appear at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Bahrain, the newspaper's editor said.

In the interview, to be published Monday, Rauf praised freedoms that Muslims and others enjoy in the United States.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Foreign policy • Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • United States

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. AmericanPatriot

    Allah gives Himself permission to edit his own work. This is an interesting one. It says in the Quran that if a passage written later contradicts an earlier passage, then the later one is the better one (read more about that). The Quran was written in sections (each section is one of Mohammad's revelations, known as a sura or chapter) over a period of 23 years. The circumstances of Mohammad's life and his religion changed quite a bit over those 23 years.

    One of the ideas in the Quran is "this is the word of Allah." People had already memorized his earlier revelations, and it would seem a little strange for the all-knowing, infinitely wise Allah to change something He had already said. But with this idea that later revelations abrogated or overwrote earlier revelations when they contradicted, the newer ideas could be accepted. Allah could edit His work.

    As I pointed out earlier, in his first 13 years of peacefully preaching, Mohammad only managed to win 150 followers. But as a military leader and violent conqueror, he was able to subjugate all of Arabia to Islamic law in less than 10 years. The peaceful ways were slow. Conversion by conquering and establishing Shari'a was faster and more efficient.

    The bad news for non-Muslims is that the later, violent, intolerant verses abrogate the earlier peaceful, more tolerant passages.

    August 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
  2. AmericanPatriot

    The only way a woman can guarantee her passage into Paradise is if her husband is happy with her when she dies. When I read about this one, I thought, "Mohammad, you are a crafty one."

    This idea obviously helps with the subjugation of women. It gives her a strong incentive to subordinate her wishes to her husband's, because while she might have a chance to get into Paradise if she's a good Muslim, the only way she can guarantee she will go to Paradise (and avoid eternal suffering in hell) is to make sure her husband is happy with her when she dies.

    August 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  3. AmericanPatriot

    It is forbidden to kill a Muslim (except for a just cause). It is not forbidden to kill a non-Muslim. This causes a bond between Muslims, fear in non-Muslims, and motivation to become Muslim. This is also another example of an explicit Islamic double standard.

    August 23, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  4. AmericanPatriot


    This article provide information about how to survive against Terrorism. Islam teaches the muslims to convert the non-belivers by acting innocent and using the democratic laws against them. Beware

    August 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  5. Reality

    In 1997, the topic imam founded the American Society for Muslim Advancement (originally named the American Sufi Muslim Association[9]), supposedly a civil society organization aimed at promoting positive engagement between American society and American Muslims. The organization is now headed by his wife, Daisy Khan, an interior designer by profession.[2]

    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 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!!!

    August 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  6. bruceben9

    there you go again. citing hundreds year old atrocities. the christrian crusades are over. let's not have islamic crusades today.

    August 23, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  7. Ninja's with no Brains

    This little Mosque will compliment my "Bazookas & Qurans" store right across the street.
    Everyone loves reading those bazooka joe comics to take a break from reading the Quran.
    Wait what were you thinking i was talking about?

    August 23, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  8. GN

    The problem with opposing the mosque is twofold: first for one to oppose the mosque and be consistant; one must subscribe to the principal of guilt by association. Second most Americans don't subscribe to the guilt by association principal. Either the majority of Americans are ill informned or a bunch of hypocrits!

    To call Islam a "violant religion" one must pick some standard and apply to christiabit as well. The problem is Christians have killed more people (christians included) in the name of christianity than all other religions combined. Go figure!

    August 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  9. toxictown

    The missing ingredient in almost all the coverage of this issue is that Rauf and his group are SUFIS(!!!) and about as far out there as you can get and still be considered a muslim. They are practically buddhists! Sufis are hated and persecuted by the Taliban, Al-Queda and all the other radical islamic grops that we are struggling with. If there is a strain of islam that we should be working with and encouraging it is these guys.

    August 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  10. Karen Saucedo

    The Imam proposes "an Islamic approach that allows for harmony and understanding among all religions and other ideas."
    YET, knowing how sensitive so many people are around Ground Zero for very obvious reasons, he still insists that is where the mosque needs to be located? This mosque should not be buildt at ground zero. For the survivors and victims' families,
    it is very important. This is not about what would NORMALLY be acceptable. This is about an extreme, tragic event and the
    consideration required by those special circumstances.

    August 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  11. Reality

    The only solution to the Muslim co-mmunity's ident-ity and clothing woes is to delete all the offensive passages in the Koran e.g. those passages that call for world and female do-mination by Muslim males.

    Until this is done, no Muslim male to include Im-am Feisal Abdul Rauf can be trusted!!!

    August 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  12. Enon

    Dear Sir- if you were really wanted this to be a bridge builder you would hear the 70% of Americans saying they do not want your temple at that location.

    August 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  13. p53

    @reality: You forgot to say "white powr", and "heil hitler" at the end of your racist rant.

    August 23, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  14. p53

    @reality: Are'nt the ancestor's of these Germans, responsible for committing genocide against the Polish Jew's? Amazing where some people will get their info from.

    August 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • Reality

      An update on our War on Terror

      Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 97,172 – 106,047 Iraqi civilians killed,

      – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,116 killed in action, 902 killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

      – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

      – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

      – Libya has become almost civil. Recently Libya agreed to pay $1.5 billion to the victims of their terrorist activities. Apparently this new reality from an Islamic country has upset OBL and his “cra-zies” as they have thre-atened Libya. OBL sure is a di-sgrace to the world especially the Moslem world!!! Or is he???

      – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

      – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

      – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

      – Bin La-d-en has been cornered under a rock in Western Pakistan since 9/11.

      – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

      – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols will follow soon.

      – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

      – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

      – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.

      – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

      – And of course the ody terror brought about the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

      August 23, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  15. p53

    Recently, politicians, and citizens alike have compared the building of this Cultural Center to, the Japanese building a "religious" center near Pearl Harbor. That comparison is flawed, and irrelavant because: 1. The Japanese have no claim to Pearl Harbor, as a part of its government. Therefore, Japan cannot build anything in Hawaii. 2. Hawaii is part of the U.S.A. It would be funny, if it werent so dog-on sad to have ignorant Republican Congressman, and Senators echoing this rediculous lack of reasoning.

    August 23, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  16. renuel

    There is no constitutional right to deny the building of the mosque...nor is there any constitutional right for the mosque to be built. Freedom of religion has nothing to do with allowing or disallowing the building of a building. If the people of that area say no..then no. No one is denying anyone their freedom of religion.

    August 23, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  17. Dennis

    Read the constitution, folks! It is a sad day for America when we attempt to interfere based on someones religious beliefs. I really thought we were better than that! Perhaps we should resserect the WWII style internment camps for Muslims.

    August 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  18. Reality

    Actually, there should be no mosques anywhere on the face of the globe. Why?

    Muslim convert journalist Stephen Schwartz, American Jewish Committee terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky, and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer have all separately testified to a growing radical Islamist Wahhabi influence in U.S. mosques, financed by extremist groups. According to Barsky, 80% of U.S. mosques are so radicalized.

    August 9, 2010 Germany shuts 9/11 plotters' mosque in Hamburg

    Police raided the mosque on Monday and hunted for evidence of jihadist activities German police have shut down the Hamburg mosque where the 9/11 hijackers met before their suicide attacks on the US in 2001.

    Police said they believed the Taiba mosque was again being used as a meeting point for extremists.

    The cultural association that runs the mosque has also been banned.

    A German intelligence report last year said radical Muslims had travelled to military training camps in Uzbekistan after associating at the mosque.

    August 23, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • Bob

      You love Germany so much, go and live there. This is America and we have the Consti-tution. That means everyone has a right to believe whatever they want to. No matter how stupid, violent, misleading or pointless. The founding fathers left England to get away from people like you.

      If you're a real american, you know that defending freedom isn't always easy and a right isn't a right if it's selectively applied. This is one of those difficult cases.

      Well, not really, it's only difficult to those people who aren't smart enough to realize the acts of individuals are not representitive of the organization. Does the hiding of pedophile priests in the Roman Catholic church mean that the entire organization has a pedophile slant?

      August 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
    • Dennis

      I'm sure that people named Schwartz, Barsky, and Schumer are experts on what goes on inside a mosque! Why don't we hear from someone who has actually been there? I have little patience for those who claim to be experts on someone else's faith! I personally am a christian (Lutheran) who is bemused by my own pastor's attempts to explain what other christians believe and why. If we know so little about our own, how can we presume to know so much about others?
      Perhaps mssrs Schartz, Barsky, and Schumer could speak on something they know about, like US-Isreali relations.

      August 23, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • p53

      @reality: Since when does a police raid in Germany, indicate a problem with a cultural center bein built in America? Are you escaped from an assylum? Your rhetoric makes no sense.

      August 23, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • Saladin

      Not only does your rhetoric make no sense, your sources are specious at best.

      August 23, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • Reality

      BBC News – Germany shuts 9/11 plotters' mosque in Hamburg

      Aug 9, 2010 ... German police shut down the Hamburg mosque where the 9/11 ... bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10911542

      August 23, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
    • toxictown

      These guys are SUFIS. Sworn enemys (and victims) of the wahhabi and Al-Queda strains of islam. We should be encouraging these guys!

      August 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  19. Mike

    Way to create a article without addressing the real issue?

    What is the imam stance on the attacks of 9/11? Does he believe that the US deserved them?

    Is this a victory mosque?
    What is the significants of the name of this mosque?

    August 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • TammyB

      I would like to know from whom the money is coming from for funding (all parties), and who is going to be running it after it is built.

      August 23, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • Saladin

      Abdul Rauf has repeatedly condemned the attacks on Septer 11th. No one deserves terror attacks. He has worked with the FBI in counter-terror efforts. It's a community center, not a masjid. I believe the significance behind Park 51 is it's location.

      August 23, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
    • AmericanPatriot

      The Quran counsels the use of deceit when dealing with non-Muslims. Mohammad instructed one of his followers to lie if he had to (in order to assassinate one of Mohammad's enemies). This set a precedent, and the principle was clear: If it helps Islam, it's okay to deceive non-Muslims. Read more about this principle here: Lying (Taqiyya and Kitman).

      This instruction in the Quran has served Islamic goals very well through history. And it serves those goals today. On the DVD, Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West, you can watch real-life examples of Islamic leaders saying one thing in English for the Western press, and saying something entirely different to their own followers in Arabic a few days later.

      Deceiving the enemy is always useful in war, and throughout history generals have used it. Islamic teachings consider Islam to be in a permanent state of war with the non-Islamic world until the whole world follows Shari'a law (read more about that here). All non-Muslims living in non-Islamic states are "enemies." So deceiving Westerners is totally acceptable because deceiving an enemy in a state of war is totally acceptable. It is encouraged if it can forward the goals of the spread of Islam.

      And so we have the strange phenomenon covered by Steven Emerson in Terrorists Among Us, where organizations in America were ostensibly raising money for orphans, but really giving the money to terrorists. They deceived good-hearted Western non-Muslims into giving money to organizations that were actively killing Western non-Muslims.

      As it says in the Quran, "War is deceit." This idea gives Islam a tremendous advantage over idea-collections that encourage indiscriminate truthfulness.

      August 23, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
    • Iqbal Khan

      Read the history Past and present check out the following link,it is full of violence..violence...Unjust.violence....

      August 26, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  20. peace2all

    If.... and this is a big if..... He truly can spread a message of peace and understanding here in the U.S. and abroad in countries that predominantly practice Islam, and it makes a positive difference, then I am all for it.

    Not sure about the U.S. funding his trips. "May" be skating some kind of church(mosque) /state issue...maybe not.

    Anyways I hope that this man is for real....... and is truly spreading a message of peace.

    If not, then he should be removed as a spokesperson for Islam (regarding U.S. relations).


    August 23, 2010 at 11:53 am |
    • Tz2u


      Aha! Another wild extremist rant by the dangerous and inflammatory rabble-rouser known as "peace2all".

      August 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
    • peace2all


      LOL...!!!!!!!!! You made me laugh... That is i hope that your name (Tz2u) is inline with your post regarding my comment.

      As my posting was nothing but of a positive and peaceful supportive nature...

      If you weren't kidding, then maybe we have something to discuss...?

      Peace to you....

      August 23, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
    • Tz2u


      I was only trying to warn other people of your dangerous inflammatory remarks, of course.

      August 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
    • Tz2u


      Of course!

      August 23, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
    • TammyB

      @Tz2u...."Extremist rant" by peace2all? Gee, I must have missed the extremist rant part. Actually, I thought it was a positive, well thought out statement. What are you reading?

      August 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
    • Tz2u


      I was teasing.
      Tz2u = tease to you.
      As for his original post, it was positively ambivalent and criminally equivocal. Wherever peace2all lives, it must be directly over a fence. 😛

      August 23, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • AmericanPatriot

      A Muslim is forbidden to make friends with a non-Muslim. A Muslim is allowed to pretend to be a friend, but in his heart he must never actually be a friend to a non-Muslim. This is one of the best protections Islam has against Muslims leaving the faith because conversions a new religion are usually made because a friend introduced it. Being forbidden to make friends with non-Muslims helps prevent that from happening. (See Quran quotes about this.)

      August 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
    • peace2all


      LOL.. again.....!!! You are 2 much.... I am going to have to track your other postings..... You are a funny dude/dudette...


      August 23, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
    • peace2all


      I think @tz2u..... suckered us both. Hope all is well....

      Peace to you....

      August 24, 2010 at 12:23 am |
    • ron

      Most muslims I speak to about loving God and ur neighbor agree and they also agree that the mosque communty center should NOT be built so close to a place where many are saying never again!!!! God be with you peace2all and that other guy is all about hate. I say if you love me Dont Build it bc of all the reasons!!!!! a list that many feel is islam phobia I am not a afraid of islam any more and with The USA going into pakistan to help people abnd iran with the ambassor of death. These people hate us for no reason except for that God blessed us and they are envious of that.

      August 24, 2010 at 11:45 am |
    • TammyB

      @tz2u...Oops! My apologies! Sorry to get in the middle of your "tease"! LOL!

      August 24, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
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About this blog

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.