Ground Zero Mosque: A Solution
As we all know by now, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has offered to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center in the proximity of Ground Zero, a purportedly generous gesture to help build trust between people of different faiths. This proposal is being disapproved of by about 70% of polled New Yorkers, for reasons that have been well-regurgitated by the media. Assuming there is sincerity behind the Imam's motivation, there exists a solution.
What if Imam Feisal announces that he is going to forge ahead with the $100 million dollar structure, but due to the disappointingly hostile reaction it roused, he will turn it into a multi-faith center with exhibits detailing the histories of the three dominant Middle East religions -- Christianity, Islam, and Judaism? And that three lofty prayer rooms -- church, mosque, and temple -- will be built side by side, with glass partitions between them so those of each faith can look over between services and witness others offering similarly humble prayer in simply a different format. The front walls of each room will be glass as well, so visitors can see the three services simultaneously. Instead of preaching to the converted -- Muslims and those who view Islam favorably -- a center like this would draw people of all faiths from New York City and around the globe. As such, it could be far more effective in accomplishing what the Imam says he wants -- an understanding that all faiths are equal. Any opponents to this center would, at this point, be few in number and exposed as blatantly anti-Muslim -- while Rauf's face will almost certainly be gracing the cover of Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" issue.
Plus, the gesture would be a voluntary sacrifice on behalf of the Imam (and by extension, Muslims everywhere) in the name of inclusion and compromise, an act that would be taken note of by the rest of the world. It would, in short, be a public relations coup as well as the right thing to do.