Friday, September 22nd 2017

Mosques and the masks of God

How best to fight against the terrorist mentality that created 9-11? First step: universal love and welcoming a mosque at Ground Zero

BY DAVID RICKEY — The recent spate of anger that has arisen over the proposal to build a Mosque within blocks of the former site of the World Trade Center is, I suspect, an example of the very issues that brought about that terrible event we call “9/11″.

On a simple level it is lack of tolerance and the resulting unwillingness to listen deeply to others whom we don’t understand. The terrorist attack so threatened our sense of security that we have erected even taller barriers around our minds and hearts with the intention of protecting ourselves from any further threat. What we don’t understand is that those barriers were, in a deep way, the cause of the attack in the first place.

Shortly after the original 9/11, many people asked, “Why do people hate us so much?”, but few were willing to truly explore that question. Instead, superficial answers like, “They hate our way of life” or “They are jealous” emerged as final answers. And furthermore, these answers elevated the sense of superiority of “our way of life” so that we could not see the value of another’s way of life.

Rules for Islam…rules for the rest of “us”

This lead us to embrace these biases to demonstrate to our waiting minds just how awful and backward Islam is. Ignoring similar statements in the Judeo-Christian scriptures, we highlighted passages in the Koran that seem to support terrorism, Jihad and all manner of hostility towards other religions.

“Infidel”, which really just means “unbeliever”, was heard as the label put on us, to justify their actions. In contrast, consider, for example, the passages in the book of Exodus gloating over the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, or any of the numerous “triumphs” over “our enemies”.

We who claim to be Christian know that these passages don’t sum up our sacred teachings. And yet we are so quick to accept that similar passages in the Koran are the sum and substance of Islam.

Terrorism is the radical expression of hatred, but where does that hatred come from? In the case of Afghanistan, Iran, or even Pakistani communities in England, it is primarily a result of systematic oppression of groups of people by other countries or economic powers.

The United States and other “Enlightened” countries have, for centuries, seen the Middle East, and other regions, not as locations of gathered human beings who deserve the same freedoms and benefits we have gained, but rather as sources of raw materials and cheap labor to enhance our own way of life.

The Crusades were less about re-establishing Christianity in the Persian Empire than dealing with the threat of rising economic and military power in a region that was so pivotal to our economic growth. Our concern in the Middle East is, primarily, the stability of countries who possess much of the resources we depend on. We’re not terribly interested in their economic growth.

Now, this is becoming a political essay on a spiritual website.

Looking at this issue through a spiritual lense

All great spiritual paths state that compassion is the touchstone of true religion. But all spiritual expressions are human attempts to connect to and live by a deep, universally, perceived mystery.

The trouble is, the mystery is always filtered through our awareness, and for all but the most enlightened sages, our awareness is colored and distorted by our egos. God becomes, for most of us, a projection of our own needs. We put masks on God that express our fears and ego-driven hopes.

God becomes “Our God” and serves us. The truth of others’ awareness, especially if it challenges our primacy before this universal power, cannot be allowed to emerge. God is to serve us! This world, even the parts that belong to others, are expected to serve us as well. Hence we attack any who get in our way.

Any surprise, then, that they do the same thing? How many dictatorships around the world have we supported because they ensured our access to cheap labor and raw materials — Haiti, Central America, to name a few.

The reality of American Islam is one of peaceful, compassionate, socially beneficial spiritual teaching. Indeed Mohammad himself, peace be upon him, intended to create a compassionate community — Umam — of mutual caring out of disparate bands of marauding nomads.

By allowing, even encouraging, the building of a Mosque in lower Manhattan, we can demonstrate the very values that call out against the terrorist activities that resulted in 9/11. The peace and mutual respect this would express would signal a shift and undermine the argument used by terrorists to justify their actions. Indeed, the hostility the proposed construction has generated only serves to reinforce the stereotype that exists in their minds.

We all need to search within ourselves and find the sources of the masks we have used to hide God’s true appearance. The shift would be to stop making God in our image and start letting this amazing mystery many of us call God emerge as our true face: True, universal love and compassion, deep and unlimited wisdom and possibility.

The time has come, and the events of the world cry out for this next step in our evolution.

David Rickey is an Episcopal priest, Soul’s Code co-founder, and counselor in San Francisco who holds a weekly ministry at a residence for the elderly in northern California.

Read David’s previous articles for Soul’s Code:  You, powered by God to heal the world and Church for the 21st century: an oral and aural buffet we can all savor. Follow David on Twitter.

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12 Comments on “Mosques and the masks of God”

  1. It is all about the money, honey. How do you keep 400 million Arabs poor and happy while the monarchy keeps all the money? Easy: it is all Israel's fault. Israel has 1% of the land in the Middle East. 1%. Usually I tip 15% in restaurants and my wife calls me cheap. Saddam had 72 palaces instead of 1 more university. The hate of Israel became the hate of USA and the hate of women being able to drive, vote and not be stoned to death. The day Muslim kings yield to democracies will be the day the Arab will be able to go to University.

  2. I soooo appreciate the reflections on Mosques/Masks. I too have been sensing that the root of all this discussion regarding the mosque in NY has its basis in attitude toward the Muslim religion. Friends keep harping on our need to be "sensitive" to the people who have lost loved ones in the tragedy of 9/11. My spirit is also sensitive and I sense that using the word "sensitivity" allows us to "be comfortable" to deny Muslims to have a center TWO BLOCKS from ground 0. Those who oppose are really not dealing with their own issues about Muslim people.

  3. Money certainly plays a large part, but it's a symbol of power and ego that spiritualities like Islam and Christianity were intending to combat. However, human evolution hasn't gone far enough to embrace the truth of either (or any) spiritual path. The problem (simplistic, I know) is the tribal mentality that is still rampant, obviously in the middle east, but also, not as obvious, but present in "more civilized" cultures like our own - just look at the Tea Party movement.

    David Rickey

  4. How dare you speak for the world. How dare they insult the people who died on Sept. 11. I am not even American and but I watched this event unfold and I am furious at this insult to build Cordoba House as a symbol of Islamic conquest.
    What is wrong with you people? Right does not always win over might. They are laughing in your faces. Islam is a totalitarian political ideal hiding behind religion. Its prophet was a warlord and misogynist who claimed to be Gods little messenger to gain control over his followers who looted, pillaged,raped, plundered, murdered, forcibly converted and took slaves. They joined forces with Hitler to exterminate the Jews and now they're moving into western countries and trying implement Sharia Law under the guise of religion and political correctness. Their law is not compatable with democracy. The religion of Peace - when the whole world converts to Islam and the infidels are dead. Read the Qu'ran, it is a book of violence.
    Sure there are plenty of moderate muslims - who will be forced to follow their leader. You won't score any points with this one, I'm afraid. Just look at what's happening in Europe and the rest of the world before its too late.


      This does not depict Allah in any way as portrayed by the fanatics who use Allah who is Al Nur and Al Haq amongst His 99 Beneficent Names.
      Man who hide behind the cowardly acts of terrorism and using God as an escape to justify their irresponsible acts....
      Islam is a Beautiful and most De-light-full aspect of the soul in merge with the Creator.
      Just like all faiths offer a way to rekindling with ones essence with God... irrespective of what their choices be in the aspect of religion.
      Its in the actions that one shows true of the faith that advocates a truth in any one given faith followed.
      Any religion that blesses one to go and take the life of another is not Godly...
      A god that encourages war and merciless killings is a weak and coward god that is created in the deluded minds of men who lust for power.
      As I said Any God that is so Powerful in reality is not a coward... and He/she does not use suicide bombers to do his/her work..... the lack of literacy in the acclaimed Muslim should know this better. Violence begets more violence....
      Love more love...peace more peace... Free will and choice is bestowed to humanity as a whole... not some few chosen advocate that their are privileged to fight god's wars.
      As I said it is pity-full that such an act of 9/11 was carried out not on governments... but on innocent citizens of all races, creed, and nationals...
      A park in memory of their lives being sacrificed, by those who hide behind the acts of Jihad or treacherous government actions will come to light.......
      No more stone walls that preach only partial doctrines...
      Love is God...Peace and Unity is what all humans should aspire towards.
      Wake Up Humanity.

      Athma Namaste

  5. I watched the event unfold as well, where many Muslims died in the destruction too. The Mosque is not a symbol of Islamic Conquest any more than Trinity Church Wall Street is a symbol of the Crusades. Let's not lump all actions that have been done in the name of religion with the best ideals of that religion. Individuals and cultures often use their religion to justify their own intentions. That doesn't condemn the religion, it only points to the problem of Free Will and unevolved consciousness.

  6. The Aspect of God is within the hearts of humanity, if an when they human race realizes that. Its most pitiful to find a singled race or religion in advocate self-appointed... as there is no written letter of appointment from the Almighty they claim to have them fight his war for him name it Jihad or what ever in the baseless of crusades fought throughout his-tory. "Infidel" strange name for those who uphold not the virtue of the sanctity of God... if at all they know Him/Her.Who appointed the warlords?....Allah? utterly blasphemy... As A true Muslim would know that Islam does not support terrorism in any way....that is being justified by Jihad...In fact Jihad is about spreading literacy... and not partaking of Life... or forcing one to convert... Then it contradicts the free will and choice....every doctrine on the platform of religion advocated.
    A Park would be the most beneficent in remembrance of those whose lives were treacherously sacrificed in the name of Jihad. Enough of stone walls whether in churches or temples mosques that do not have doctrines of peace, love and unity, in the best interest and for the highest good of all concerned.God is in the love thy neighbor and in the actions that are impartial to all collectively irrespective their choices of beliefs.
    Man is in the habit of repeating history.

    Athma Namaste

  7. Absolute Taqqiiya
    In many Islamic countries under Sharia Law Moslems are killed for freedom of speech or crimes against God; Homosexuals are hanged; women and children are abused and tortured; women are stoned to death for adultery which can mean speaking to man; or stoned/hanged for being raped or not wearing a burqua as they are responsible for the perverted sexual drives of men; In many countries female genital mutilation is mandatory; and acid is thrown in the faces of women who complain; Women are forced into marriage and dirty old men can marry children; Honor killings are acceptable; Hands and feet are severed; infidels are murdered and animals tortured; Children are brainwashed and groomed as suicide bombers and to fight the Kaffirs and infidels and monuments and great works of Art have been destroyed. Naziism is alive and well!

    All this is primitive and barbaric you might think but it is happening in Muslim countries in the world right now.
    There are hundreds of videos on the internet filmed live at these barbaric murders. And now muslims have infiltrated all the western countries, there is an increasing push for radical Islam and Sharia Law.

    I no longer believe that God is at the head of any organised religionI. Allah and God are not the same. It is sick and disgusting and provocative to even suggest building a Mosque at ground Zero or any other kind of church. I don't know why you all just don't roll over now and convert before you have to.
    Just read the Qu'ran. It spreads violence and is open to many interpretations according to who is the boss bully and what side of the bed he got out on.

  8. And by the way, muslims are the ones who wear masks to cover their guilt and shame and the two faces of Islam. - The one that is presented as Utopia to the ignorant
    and the Jihaad being won by stealth..
    through political correctness and christian righteousness.


  9. I don't know all the details but it is going to have an auditorium for shows? I understand there is to be a huge stage and a large auditorium for shows and such - bigger than the Lincoln Center. Is this a mosque or en entertainment center? Can't we just honor the dead and leave the area to trees and flowers and grass and leave it at rest. There are peaceful memorials (like in Hawaii) built over mass graves from battleships. Can't we give these people some respect and stay off the land?

    oh yes....but then no one would make any money. It IS about money.

    How disrespectful to the people who died there. God bless them.


  10. The government is supposed to be representing the wishes of the people. This is clearly a very personal and emotional issue. People do not want hallowed ground overshadowed with a Mosque. It is an expression of loathing and contempt toward America by all muslims, competing for control.

    Muslims all over the world have burned bibles, burned our flags, flaunted our laws and taken advantage of our hospitality with ingratitude and threats and spat on us. But dare we to retaliate, all you good christians rush to do their bidding. There are two faces of Islam. Do you know which one you are looking at? Are you just trying to score points by being some hero or are doing what is right? I don't think so. I don't think Jesus would have succumbed. He died first.

    I once worked with a woman who was very jealous and condescending to me. I thought I could rise above that. For years I tolerated her behaviour and always tried to be forgiving and helpful to her and appeased her, because I thought if I was kind and fair she would give up persecuting me and leave me alone. She didn't, she made my life a misery and I finally sucumbed to illness. Even then she stuck the boots in.

    There are people being born on this earth without a soul.

  11. I agree with Veronique, V.M Redburn and others. Plus there are some very misleading remarks, too many to comment on in this space, for example the following phrase,

    "consider, for example, the passages in the book of Exodus gloating over the destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea,"

    Firstly the word 'gloating' is a personal not objective interpretation, and most importantly the egyptians wanted to kill the jews, who were escaping from 200/300 hundred years of slavery!??!!?

    There is no significant muslim community in ground zero, and apparently there are 6 mosques one would pass by to get to the proposed new site.

    Indeed the amman recently said on Larry King, that he would consider it a DEFEAT if they moved to another site. Is that not gross insensitivity to those in the area who have not healed their wounds. Would not moving to another site, alleviate the profound mistrust that many hold about Islam because of extremism, jihadists and blatant misogyny.

    In fact if more devout muslims would speak out against archaic customs such as stoning women to death etc. instead of burning flags and yelling we shed our blood for whatever, christians, jews and others might have more tolerance for them.

    Even though the recent news about the Fl pastor, who is evidently unstable, they are burning flags and blaming all americans for the action of one crackpot. The muslims in those countries have serious anger management problems, and discourse and debate are not an integral part of their outlook.

    They take advantage of democracy to push forward an insidious agenda, an infidel is considered to be inferiour and not worth living, they are quite clear on that. Why not ask why they are so intolerant, instead of putting blame on the few fringe groups such as the tea party.

    Really David, if there is a pit bull in the neighbourhood, do you want a rottweiler protecting you, or a golden retriever?

    Yes Western cacausion foreign policy sucks, but that does not warrant blaming an entire population just trying to get by. What about the corrupt governments who take the bribes for their resources. And what about the rich Saudi's, why aren't they advoacating and using their money to help advance the muslims in their own countries.

    First a mosque in ground zero, and soon they will be demanding public calls to prayer over loudspeakers.

    Just because they have the right, doesn't mean it's right.

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