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Let's get something straight before the hate mail begins to fly; I am not an Islamaphobe, and I DO support Islam's Constitutional right for Muslims to worship where they choose, though very reluctantly in this case. Just because you CAN put a Mosque at Ground Zero, doesn't mean you SHOULD put a Mosque at Ground Zero. You'd need to be very naive to think this Mosque isn't going to be a political and ideological hot-spot for inevitable protests and possible violence. Instead of a beacon for peaceful Muslims, it has the overwhelming feel of an extremists lightening-rod. I see no good coming from this - but I hope history proves this cartoon wrong.

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Comment by Nick Morgan on August 29, 2010 at 9:39pm
Yousef, thank you very much for your gracious response and for the links you included. For the sake of the the readers of this site, I will end my part of the discussion. I have enjoyed this discussion and I really appreciate your willingness to "shed some light" on some of the more disturbing pasages in the Qu'ran. It is obvious to me that taking Sura's out of context is similar to taking Bible verses out of context, the real meaning gets distorted or lost. I will seek out others who are much more friendly toward Islam to learn more about it. I enjoy learning about our Three Great Abrahamic Religious Traditions, especially since I'm a Roman Catholic. Feel free to contact me anytime through my Fire Engineering Training Community Page.
And may God bless you and keep you safe my friend!
Comment by Yousef Ghadanfari on August 28, 2010 at 11:22pm
for some reason the link for the verses I quoted from disappeared on my comment below, so here is the link:
Comment by Yousef Ghadanfari on August 28, 2010 at 11:20pm
Dear Nick,
Before I reply to your comment, I must apologize to the readers here that this discussion might have taken into different direction, but I can assure you that most of misconception arose from this debate is due to lack of awareness of Islam. I will do my best to conclude this subject in my comment here.

I’m glad you have quoted the verses of The Holy Quran so I can clear up the foggy picture that you and other readers have about Islam. The book that you have quoted from "Answering Islam" by Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb is questionable. For one thing, if you want to convince someone of opposite religion you should use his/her original reference and not using authors from the same religion. Say I as a Muslim want to make a point to you in Christianity then I should quote from Bible and not from Quran because quoting from Quran will not be a credible point since you don’t believe in it.

Back to the book you have quoted from. The author Norman Geisler is a Christian Apologist and he is forefront of Anti-Islamic, thus, you can’t expect him to be fair and just when he is talking about Islam. The so called “Abdul Saleeb” which by the way the name is a pseudonym used by Christian, it means “servant of cross” in Arabic. Assuming he is Arab Christian, there is big question about his true existence, we haven’t seen his face nor we have any information about his origin.

Now, with respect to your quotes in the Quran, I must emphasize that reading the text out of its context will lead to misunderstanding of the purpose of these verses you have quoted. Questions you should ask yourself, when did these verses revealed? And to whom it was address to? Why did it revealed? Answering these questions will reveal a lot of answers.

The quotes that you have mentioned were addressed to those who fought the Prophet Mohammad and I mean fighting in all means, Assassination attempt, deportation, torturing his followers, confiscating the Prophet and his follower’s properties, launching wars against him. And who did all that? Disbelievers or those who worshiped idols back then basically from his hometown.

You also must understand, that some verses were revealed only for specific instructions and for specific period of time for that particular circumstances. Islam never command its followers to initiate the aggression, but to defend themselves against those who fight them like this verse
Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. [60:8] Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong. [60:9]

Another verse “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.” [2:190] The previous verse clearly and without doubt states that the only fight Muslims are permitted to fight when they are in self defense and does not allow the Muslims to be transgressors.

Also Islam does not force anyone to follow Islam which is clearly indicated in this verse “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.” [2:256]

As you see dear Nick, one must understand the reasons why these verses that mention fighting the disbelievers is from understanding the history behind them. Moreover, if you want to read about Islam, read it from people who are fair and not bias and who hold grudges on Islam. Because there are people who are dedicating their time and money so they could separate us the People of the Books (Quran, Bible and Torah).

And I totally agree with you that we as a human beings should find common grounds to connect the bridges between us let alone we are fire service personnel.
Again I apologize for all readers for this lengthy comment but since the subject was dragged to the reputation of Islam I was forced to reply.

NOTE: the verses of The Holy Quran I quoted above were interpreted by Yusuf Ali and the link is here
Comment by John Corcoran on August 26, 2010 at 7:17pm
Hatred will come from both sides, no matter who started it first, or who will carry it the longest. And it does not matter if it is based upon religions, beliefs or backgrounds. I do believe that people have the right to express their opinions - Soldiers of the US military have served and have even died to give us that right.

The one thing that comes to mind about all of this is that fact that someone in either the City of New York, the County, or the State chose to approve the plans for this to be built that close to the Ground Zero site. If there is true concern over this, then someone might be wanting to think about pulling permits or changing them. Until something is done, this will continue to be a very hot topic of discussion. Either way, the decision to request one that close to Ground Zero, or to allow an idea of one being build that close to the location, should have been something someone would have thought twice about.

Just hope that this is not the start of something worse to come, and for all of us to be safe.
Comment by Paul Combs on August 24, 2010 at 7:26am
Just listened to this NPR broadcast this morning (link below). Interesting piece that unfortunately emboldens my editorial cartoon's message of this facility being a beacon for hatred. Understand, that it's hatred on both sides of this debate fueling the blaze.
Comment by Nick Morgan on August 23, 2010 at 11:55pm
Yousef, here are some of the Sura's that concern me, these are quoted from the book "Answering Islam" by Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb. Sura 9:5 ...fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every strategem of war..."; 9:14 "Fight them, and God will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame..."; 9:29 "Fight those whgo believe not in God nor the Last Day nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His apostle nor acknowlege the Religion of Truth (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya (religious tax) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued."; 47:4 "Therefore, when you meet the unbelievers, smite at their necks, at length when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them)....but if it had been God's will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (himself), but (he let's you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the way of God, he will never let their deeds be lost."
These are just a few verses of concern. However, I realize these verses could be taken out of context, but these are some of the very verses those inclined toward terrorism and violence in the name of Islam use to justify their actions.
Like I said, I know this isn't the forum to carry on a religious discussion, I'm just responding to your request. I consider you a true brother in the fire service and we are working toward the same goal, which is to save lives and property from the devastation of fires and other disasters. And that, I believe, is considered a noble calling from God whether you are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim.
Obviously my life will go on even if the Mosque is built near Ground Zero. I was glad to read that the Archbishop was working to mediate this controversy. I agree with you completely about the need for respect, tolerance, and ongoing dialogue among those of us from the Three Great Monotheistic Religions. We have many differences, but we also have many beliefs in common. But I do hope and pray, for the sake of all involved, that this will be solved in a wise manner, taking into utmost consideration the lives and feelings of all those personally affected by the atrocities of 9-11-01. God bless you and stay safe!
Comment by Yousef Ghadanfari on August 20, 2010 at 4:00pm
Nick, thank you for your reply and I do appreciate your thoughts in this subject. I just want you if you don't mind to quote for me the verses where it is referring to "killing the infidel" Just to clarify it. Back to our subject of building the Mosque near ground zero, this issue has to be resolved by NY people through the proper channels because for me it is not the end of the world if they didn't build the Mosque near the Ground Zero. What matters for me is that people should not fear Islam as a religion. In addition, we lack dialog or communication on the basis of respect and tolerance. The absence of dialog will indeed lead to misconception between the two great religion.
Comment by Nick Morgan on August 20, 2010 at 1:17pm
Yousef, thank you for continuing in this discussion, I'm sure you feel that you are the minority view here. I believe the statements you made about terrorists, Al-Quaeda, and the Taliban are overall accurate. Iraq over the past few years has definitely been an example of Muslims killing muslims, (Sunni versus Shiite) as we have seen Christians killing Christians over the centuries, (Catholics vs Protestants vs Orthodox), and Muslims versus Orthodox, cultic psuedo-christians killing Jews, etc. So you are absolutely correct that murder and insanity in the name of God is certainly not limited to those of the Islamic faith. However, I have done some studies of the Koran and Islam as a religion, and I have found certain statements in Sura' referring to "killing the infidel" who won't submit to Allah as understood by Islam. The earlier history of Islam seems to develop from one of tolerance towards Christians and Jews (People of the Book) to a growing hostility and eventual call for forced conversions to Islam on threat of death. Along with this, the fact that Christians were severely persecuted in Iraq after the US invasion, along with the prohibition of the building of Churches or open practice of the Christian faith in deeply Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran make it difficult to believe that Islam is a basically peaceful religion. However, I sincerely hope I'm wrong about this. In Christianity, we can clearly point to the overwhelming evidence of the New Testament, and the Old Testament properly understood, to condemn any acts of violence committed in the name of Christ. But I'm not an expert on Islam nor the Koran, and I realize I may be seeing only part of the picture, but it is disturbing nonetheless. All that being said however, I do not believe that most Muslims are terrorists. You are correct in stating that there were other motives behind these acts of terrorism besides religious ones. Maybe the religion was simply used a a thin veneer covering for much more sinister and deviant motives of those committing and funding the terrorist acts.
I know this isn't the site to engage in a lengthy discussion of religion and theology, so I'll make one more point and then stop. Having studied some of the Koran, I'm also aware that there is much in there that is good and that I can respect as a Catholic. There are many places in the Suras that refer to Allah as "Just, Merciful, and Good". And many of the stories of our Old Testament saints, including Abraham, are retold in similar forms. There is much in the religion of Islam that I find good and commendable, which is why I tend to feel conflicted about Islam overall. Your religion also teaches many good things about Jesus (Isa) and His Holy Mother Mary.
But to get back to the issue at hand, due to the personal and emotional nature of this debate about the proposed Mosque/Cultural center near Ground Zero, I'm still convinced that the most important uestion is not can a Mosque be built there. Of course it can. The real question to me is should it be built there? Personally, I believe it would be much wiser to build it elsewhere. Just my Opinion.
God bless you brother Yousef, and stay safe!
Comment by Keith Farris on August 20, 2010 at 10:53am
I feel we, as a nation in general, have become extremely untolerant of others and what they believe. I am no preacher, and far from being the christian my parents tried to raise me to be. (Ghandi once remarked, "I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." He must have had some decent reason for saying it, like it or not). Yes, I am a sinner and ask for forgiveness daily from the God I pray to, and I do so as my New Standard Bible suggests, in private places and not on the hill for all to see and marvel. The following link was shared with me by a good friend and great paramedic. I feel the message should speak to us all. As for my opinion on the Cordoba House, I do not have one. I will not be directly affected by it, since I live in Texas. I am not the most tolerent with others at times but I strive to change daily as I feel we should ALL start learning to do. We charter ourselves to offer services to people, regardless of color, ethicity, religion and so forth. We would do a greater service to humanity to act this way every day with waking moments of our lives, beyond the confines of the workplace. Just my thoughts... Here is the link now.
Keith Farris- Asst Chief
Comment by Yousef Ghadanfari on August 19, 2010 at 10:57pm
Nick Morgan
I very much respect your opinion, and I may add more points from my previous comment. We as fire service personnel all around the globe share the same common goal which is protecting lives regardless of religion, ethnics, or colors. That’s what have trained for in general and that’s what I was raised for by the teaching of Islam in specific. I’m not here to preach my religion but at least I have the right defend my belief.
I was deeply sadden when I was watching the attack and my mind was going in every details I could imagine how my fellows firefighters responding to this barbaric attack. I don’t think any sane Muslims would agree on killing innocent people and yes unfortunately we do have insane Muslims like any other religions who have sane and insane.

Brad Hoff
You said
“it is kind of hard not to when we see and hear of all these bombings and killings in the name of allah. In my opinion, that gives me a certain right to think that this is a Holy war or jihad against America and other countries to expand a religion much like in the Crusades.”

I think you watch too much of FOX NEWS (smile). Just because some idiot running in the middle of the crowd in a crowded market and shouting “Allah Akbar” and pulls the trigger in his hidden bomb belt and blows up tens of people from his own religion, does not make him a Muslim. I think you have seen and read this kind of bombing in Iraq which was carried out by Al-Qaeda. They are killing their own people and their own religion. So you tell me, are they only targeting Christians or also Muslims as well !!??

My dear friend, we don’t need to kill people to expand our religion, as you are well aware that Islam is the fastest-growing religion, this is a fact and not one of my daydreaming wishes. How it became the fastest-growing religion? By setting the good example of true Muslim, teaching peace and tolerance.
To answer your questions, allow me to answer them in shortest and to the point.

“what faith are they of then?
There are no faiths of which hundreds of millions follow preach for killing innocent people, and sure Islam is not one of them. Those who do kill and conduct terrorist attacks are pursuing their political agenda but they polish it with the paint of Islam.

And why are not more Muslims loudly voicing their disgust over these terrorists and their actions proclaiming to be Muslims and killing innocent people in the name of allah”?

We do voice loudly and condemn them and take several actions against them. As a matter of fact we became victims of terrorism by the same group who attacked WTC on 9/11. They killed couple of law enforcement officers and as a small country we lived in a dramatic time when there was chasing and shooting for several days. This was not just in Kuwait but in most Muslim countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and many more.

The problem is that most Americans only listen to CNN, FOX NEWS and sadly to say, most of American media have been kidnapped by Hardliners and politically motivated in the US government.
Remember when George W. Bush said after 9/11 “this Crusade” ? Do you also remember when he said that God told him to invade Iraq? Osama Bin Laden said that he is waging war on America and its Allies in the name of God. Let me ask you a question, what is the difference between Osama and Bush?

Let me ask you a question, who created Taliban and Al-Qaeda? Who supported them? And who supplied them with weapons? Do little research and you will find the answers.
You said it yourself when you said it is very hard to differentiate between truth and lies. There are people who wish that West does not meet with East. In other word, there are people who are working so hard so that they don’t see the day Muslim and Christian sit together in peace and harmony and I’m not talking on personal level but on countries and regions.
I totally agree with you, we may differ in opinions but we are in the same goal which bond us as a Fire Service.

Darren Jaques
I respect your feelings and opinions. And you don’t have to buy it for what I said that the attack on 9/11 has nothing to do with Islam. But allow me at the same token not to buy it when Christian groups who conducted act of terrorism around the world including America have nothing to do with Christianity. How many Christian groups conducted terrorism and in the name of God? Ask Mr. Google and he will be able to enrich you with information in this regard.

We could go on make a list from your side and from my side all crimes committed in the name of religion, but is that the right way?

TRUST me, most of crimes committed in the name of religion if you dig deeper you will see politics, power, money, drugs behind them.

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