I fully embrace the fact that I may not be on the popular side of the proverbial fence regarding the current proposed location of the Cordoba/ASMA cultural center and media dubbed 'Ground Zero Mosque', now known as Park51, but I have not expressed my views with the objective of winning a popularity contest.
It is also not my contention, as is that of others in the debate, that the project should be scrapped. On the contrary! I simply believe that it was not necessary to exaserbate an already inflamed climate of Islamophobia by choosing a site for the construction that would be hard-pressed to escape the scrutinity of those who would conspire against its intended purpose. However, the decision was made, and now the Muslim community at-large will live with backlash that simply did not have to happen in the first place.
The responsibility of being peacemakers is, indeed a great one. However, antagonizing the non-Muslim community and then invoking the U.S. Constitution in defense vs. simply making a non-confrontational decision in the first place, does not mean that I have to accept the location decision as being right; therefore, I have spoken.
And yes, I get mail. If you'll forgive the typographical and grammatical errors, I will share them as-is. Here are just a few, for the sake of brevity.
From New Delhi: I like the article of Aishah. Its really interesting to read the contents of her article. Here I must say Muslims need a lots changes in their attitude and give attention towards education rather than wasting their time in so many terrorism acts. Islam means peace and progress. But today non of the muslim country around the world are in peace. Illiteracy, poverty and killing each other and leg pulling among themselves are so common. More focus be given in constructive activities. I would like to join your platform and I will appreciate I allow to participate in all your activities.
From Malaysia: Habibty, You did just what you feel was right and I admire your guts in saying your heart out rather than following the "flow". You stood by your principal and that's what would be questioned in the here after... "What have you done Aishah, about the "subject matter". My goodness, your English is superb!!! I have to repeat reading them to understand what lies beneath your messages. Astounding! Honestly, here in Malaysia, I dare not be as vocal as you. I chicken out! I salute you Habibty.
From North Carolina: What you write and what you talk about are wonderful. Even if i dont always agree they are still wonderful. Your words bring light to darkness, if someone reads what you think and for 1 minute stops and thinks then you have done a great job. I want Muslims to not only read something but expand it, improve it, develop it to its fullest capacity. I want muslims to be sheperds not just like the multitude of sheep we are today. Our greatest enemy is apathy and fear. Through both of these we allow the loud and violent amongst us to control and dictate the message. This is as evident in the west as much as the Islamic world.
From Virginia: As-Salaamu'alaykum. Ramadan Mubarak. Just a short note Sis. Aishah - to let you know that I (and I am sure many many other Muslims) fully endorse your statement. Right does not mean wise. The fallout is felt by Muslims all over the country. What the Muslims organizations like ISNA, CAIR etc., should do is speak up on the hypocritical silence of the media vis a vis the Museum of Tolerance being built on a centuries old Muslim cemetery and also the tragedy unfolding in Pakistan. May Allah (swt) bless you and your family with all the rewards that Ramadan brings. Ameen. Wa Salaam
From Saudi Arabia: my daer thank you, jeddah saudi arabia
From Virginia: Please don't worry about the negative messages (you'll more than likely receive more). Even among my closest friends we disagree on this matter. I do not like to generalize, however it does bother me that some of my brothers in Islam who are shouting at the top of their voices about the freedom of religion and the rights to build are for the most part silent when it comes to matters like the rights of Muslim women even right here in our mosques. Some of us even go as far as calling each other 'kufar' if we have a different opinion on a certain issue. I could go on about that, but I think that you know that already. Obviously, my dear Sister Aishah, we have a lot of work to do in our own communities and we have to encourage our leaders, especially the progressive ones, to speak up and not be afraid of those who are hardheaded or ignorant.
From Location Unknown: The project has been a PR disaster from the beginning. For some reason, the Muslim community thinks PR is about getting few minutes on the cable news and talk shows. "Once I get on the show, I will clarify every thing" is the attitude. However, PR happens before and after the show in framing the debate. So what now? Is this the end? Of course not, any bad campaign can be saved. The question for NY folks is that should they work on saving the campaign or concede for now similar to Hudaybia. I believe people involved in the project and local residents are in a better position to make this decision. Both are good options. I think the only bad option at this stage will be to use legal right logic to win.
From Nigeria: Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance n perservearance!
Members of mainstream US Muslim organizations don't have to accept my position on the matter; I do not recall having given any one of them permission to speak on my behalf - nor am I aware of there being any campaign nominating and electing a single one of them as being representative of the national Muslim voice.
May the peace and mercy of our Creator guide us all.
MWA Director Commends New York Governor in Step Toward Compromise on Ground Zero http://prlog.org/
Park 51/'Ground Zero Mosque' - The Crux of the Matter http://prlog.org/
Park 51 Organizers Missed Opportunity to Promote Tolerance and Understanding - http://www.prlog.org/
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Aishah Schwartz, an American Muslim published writer and activist, serves as Founder and Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), established in 2006. She is also a retired 17-year career litigation legal assistant. As an activist her focus leans toward the rights of Muslim women and the plight of the Palestinian people affected by the Israeli imposed illegal embargo on Gaza.