September 17th, 2010
11:40 AM ET

Amid furor, 'ground zero mosque' imam leans on interfaith crisis management team

When Feisal Abdul Rauf learned earlier this month that a fundamentalist Florida pastor was flying to New York in hopes of meeting with him, the imam contacted Christian friends for advice on how to respond.

A handful of Christian leaders discouraged Rauf from meeting the Rev. Terry Jones - who’d threatened to burn Qurans unless Rauf moved his proposed Islamic center and mosque further from ground zero - and organized a phone call with Jones last weekend to urge him to cancel his Quran burning.

Jones had sent mixed messages about the event, first saying he had cancelled the burning but then announcing that he was rethinking whether to have the event.

“Jesus’ love and grace would have never resulted in such a hateful act,” said Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical leader who advised Rauf about the meeting and helped organize the call. “So the faith community unified and mobilized.”

After hearing from Wallis and other Christian leaders, Rauf declined the meeting with Jones, who never went through with his event.

With the controversy over the site and substance of his proposed Islamic center now spanning the globe, the imam is relying on an informal cabinet of faith-based advisors, many of them Christian and Jewish, for crisis management advice and moral support during the most difficult public crisis of his life.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Houses of worship • Interfaith issues • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • United States

September 16th, 2010
10:40 PM ET

New Republic controversy on Islam blog post roils Harvard

From CNN Jerusalem bureau chief Kevin Flower:

A blog post on Islam on the website of the liberal political magazine The New Republic has prompted a torrent of criticism that is roiling the hallowed halls of Harvard University.

Writing about Muslims in America, New Republic editor and former Harvard professor Martin Peretz posted the following on the magazine's site:

"....Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse."


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Islam • Muslim

September 16th, 2010
03:00 PM ET

Our Take: How to reclaim Islam from the radicals

Editor's Note: Khalil Nouri was born in an Afghan political family. He is the co-founder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solutions for Afghanistan. Michael Hughes is a journalist for The Huffington Post and Examiner.com and is a strategist for the New World Strategies Coalition.

By Khalil Nouri and Michael Hughes, Special to CNN

Contrary to popular belief, most of the Islamic faithful were severely disturbed by the 9/11 attacks. According to Gallup, 93 percent of Muslims across the globe condemn the heinous acts, and many found it appalling that deranged jihadists hijacked two planes and killed over 3,000 innocents in the name of Islam.

These extremists also hijacked Islam itself. Muslims can rescue their religion only through a solution that is spiritual in nature.

Although a relatively diminutive percentage of the total, Muslims who adhere to Islamic radicalism have done significant damage. Take Afghanistan, where U.S.-led forces are struggling against the Taliban and al Qaeda, movements described as “fascism with an Islamic face”.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Islam • Muslim • Opinion

September 14th, 2010
01:26 PM ET

September 14th, 2010
01:21 PM ET

My Take: Michael Moore and moving the Islamic center to ground zero

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

I usually ignore Michael Moore, who has long seemed to me a liberal doppelganger of the worst conservative ideologues. But when he said on September 11 that the Islamic community center should not be built near ground zero but on ground zero my ears perked up.  Hadn’t I heard that before?

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Celebrity • Culture wars • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • Opinion

September 14th, 2010
12:28 PM ET

Lessons from the whole Quran episode

(CNN) - When Terry Jones, a Florida pastor, announced his plan to burn Qurans on 9/11 with a tweet and an "International Burn a Koran Day" page on Facebook, he ignited an international conflagration of outrage.

As news spread, worldwide condemnation and anxiety mounted. At least two people died in a demonstration in Afghanistan. It seemed this obscure self-proclaimed pastor in Gainesville, Florida, was determined to carry out an action of catastrophic global consequences.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates even called him. Jones finally changed his mind.

Now that the crisis is over, CNN asked contributors to write their observations of what happened, and what lessons the pastor's threat and the events that followed can teach us.

Read the full story here.
Editor's note: Read CNN Belief Blog Contributor Stephen Prothero's 7 things learned here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Church and state • Islam • Muslim • Opinion • Quran

September 13th, 2010
10:55 AM ET

Imam calls for moderates to join together, fight extremism

NEW YORK (CNN) -  Saying America has let extremists "hijack the agenda,"the imam behind a controversial proposal to place an Islamic community center and mosque near Manhattan's ground zero said Monday he wants to create a platform where the voice of moderate Muslims can be amplified.

"This is an opportunity that we must capitalize on, so those who teach moderation will have a megahorn," Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told the Council on Foreign Relations.

- CNN Belief Blog

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

September 11th, 2010
06:25 PM ET

Florida pastor calls off Quran burning

(CNN) - The pastor of a Florida church says his congregation has decided to call off the burning of the Quran that was to be held Saturday - the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States by the al Qaeda terror network.

"We will definitely not burn the Quran," the Rev. Terry Jones told NBC's "Today" on Saturday "Not today, not ever." The burning had been planned for 6 p.m.

Jones arrived in New York late Friday night and was working to set up a meeting with the imam in charge of the Islamic center planned near ground zero. The planned meeting, Jones had said, helped persuade him to halt the burning.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Christianity • Church • Houses of worship • Interfaith issues • Islam • Mosque • Quran

September 10th, 2010
05:58 PM ET

That other worship space at ground zero

Editor's Note: CNN's Mary Snow and Alexia Mena bring us this report on the only place of worship destroyed on 9/11 and their hopes to rise at ground zero.

(CNN) -  The unassuming three-story St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
stood dwarfed in the shadow of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Built
in 1916 in the style of the old village parishes in Greece, its location in
what became the glass and steel jungle of New York's financial district was
curious, to say the least.

The church had a congregation of about 70 families. They vowed to rebuild
it after the South Tower, engulfed in smoke, collapsed and crushed it on
September 11, 2001. But no real progress has been made.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Christianity • Church and state • Greek Orthodox Church • Houses of worship • New York • United States

September 10th, 2010
12:12 PM ET

Would a Muslim burn the Bible?

If you’re trying to understand what burning a Quran would look like to a Muslim, consider this:

“For Christians, Jesus is the word of God. For Muslims, the Quran is the word of God. Imagine someone burning Jesus,” says Emad El-Din Shahin, a religion professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Talk about the Quran has dominated the news ever since a Florida pastor announced that he would burn copies of Islam’s holiest book on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The pastor has since announced that he has called off the event, then later said it is still being contemplated. But his plan has already evoked some of the vilest acts of religious persecution in Western history, religious scholars say.


- CNN Writer

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Bible • Books • Interfaith issues • Islam • Persecution • Quran

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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.