Developers of the site have stated that the purpose of the project is to create a place for reconciliation and a coming together of Christians and Muslims. When looking at the bigger picture, however, it is apparent that in reality, this building is part of a grand strategy to accomplish what the Muslim World League in Mecca stated as their goal in converting the whole world to Islam by the year 2080.
The Muslim strategy to change the world in the next century is impressive. The strategy includes four prongs, which are:
1. Da'wah, best translated into English by the word "missions." Muslims desire to convert people in this way by persuasion. This is the main method being used in the United States today.
2. Jihad, the well known term that means "holy war." Jihad is used to convert persons by force. This strategy is being used in countries such as Sudan, Nigeria and Indonesia.
3. Immigration, the migration of large number of citizens going from Muslim countries to non-Muslim countries. This has been effective particularly in Western Europe.
4. The building of Mosques, which includes the now proposed mosque in New York City.
Muslims see the building of the mosque, or Islamic cultural center, as a way to show the preeminence of Islam over all other religions, especially Christianity. It is estimated that, worldwide, more than 30,000 new mosques have been built in the last 20 years. The construction of new mosques is well-planned and developers generally seek to gain as much publicity as possible.
Mosques are often placed close to an existing church or public building, and are often intentionally built to be both larger and taller than the church. Such is the case in New York, with the proposed 13-story Mosque being both taller and larger than the nearest church that stands only two blocks away -- St. Paul's Chapel. This chapel houses the historic church where George Washington worshiped and was one of the main centers of refuge for those performing the rescue work after Sept. 11, 2001.
In numerous cities such as Dearborn, Mich.; Tangier, Morocco; and Nazareth, Israel, Muslims have built or plan to build mosques taller and larger than nearby churches. Another significance of this strategy is to show that Islam is growing while Christianity is declining or static at best. It is noteworthy that plans were presented to the Italian government for a new mosque in Rome, Italy, that would be both taller and larger than St. Peter's Basilica. The plan was rejected, but Rome now has one of Europe's largest mosques in its city.
In Islam, names and titles are very important. Generally, new mosques built in Christian countries carry the name of Muslim warriors who were victorious over Christians. This is the case for one of Germany's largest Mosques, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Mosque in Mannheim. The mosque was named for Ottoman Sultan of Turkey, Selim I, who doubled the size of the Ottoman Empire in the early 16th century at the expense of many Christian lives, and led to the period of its greatest power.
As for the New York Mosque, it was reported that the two organizations listed as owners of the site are the Cordoba Initiative and the American Society of Muslim Advancement. Cordoba, or Cordova is a city in Spain where conflict between Muslims and Christians was rampant. Both religions at one time or another had control of the city. Thus, the name Cordoba is likely symbolic of a desire of the developers to once again overrun Christianity.
Along with the building of new mosques, many Muslims worldwide have also made the destruction of churches integral to their plans. When there is conflict between Christians and Muslims, there is often a report that several churches were burned down or destroyed. The goal is to capitalize on these destroyed properties and build mosques.
Furthermore, in most Muslim countries in the Middle East, it is not only impossible to build a new church building, but it is against the law to repair one that is already in existence.
Many questions have come up regarding the source of the one hundred million dollars needed to build the Cordoba house in New York. One only has to study the financing of the total Islamic strategy however, to find its source of funding. One missiologist has estimated that the Muslim World League, a main force in the expansion of Islam worldwide, has financing of more than $200 million dollars a day, which mostly comes from Saudi Arabia oil money. This, in addition to others sources, shows that $100 million dollars for one mosque is easy to obtain.
In many Western countries, the building of large imposing mosques in the heart of cities has caused dissent and polarization of the population. However, in no case have Muslims pulled back because of the controversy. On the contrary, they have moved forward, often building even larger buildings than they had permission to build. For them to say that the reason for their new project is to bring Christians and Muslims closer is a ruse that should be soundly rejected.
Some have argued that in America we believe in freedom of religion, thus the developers of this mosque should have the permission to build. Others say that permission should be given for the construction in New York as soon as permission is given for the construction of a church or synagogue in Saudi Arabia, an idea that has been totally rejected by the country's authorities. Whatever the outcome of the Ground Zero mosque, as Christians, we must be always be aware of the hostilities that such projects present to our nation and our religion. We must go beyond the sphere of politics and keep abreast of the strategies that the authorities in Islam are pushing.
William Wagner is senior professor of Baker James Cauthen Chair of Missions at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif.
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