Amid the rhetoric unleashed over the demand by Muslims to build an Islamic Mosque just two blocks from where thousands of Americans, including several personal friends of mine, were killed by Islamic fundamentalists, some items have been overlooked.

Yes, we have religious freedom in America. Yet, this is not a question of religious freedom, but rather a question of sensitivity. If “moderate” adherents of Islam want to reach out for acceptance and others to be sensitive to their needs, they must understand that sensitivity is a two way street.

The question is not over building a House of Worship to the God to whom all Hebrews, Christians and Muslims pray (the God of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac – yes, we all worship the same single Deity and come to Him through three different paths – Moses, Jesus (whom Muslims call “Isa”) and Mohammed). Religion has been shaped through the centuries by various ethnic, cultural and philosophical differences; but these three monotheistic religions all have the same roots.

The actual question is “Why there?”. It is not over building an Islamic Mosque, but where it is proposed to be built.

Now, let's go into this a little deeper. The project was originally called the “Cordorba House” and is sponsored by “The Cordorba Initiative”.

Cordorba is a reference to the Spanish City of Cordorba, which was the center of the Islamic Caliphate when the Iberian Peninsula was invaded and conquered by the Islamists in the Middle Ages. For six hundred years the Muslims ruled the conquered Iberian Peninsula. The first Christian Crusade (the Islamists refer derogatorily to Christians as “Crusaders”) was not an invasion of the Holy Land by Christians, but an undertaking by the Catholic King and Queen of Spain (Ferdinand and Isabella) to rid the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).

A little bit of history – in 1492 the last Spanish city controlled by the Islamists surrendered – and then Queen Isabella commissioned an Italian sailor – Christopher Columbus – to sail to the East – in order to replenish the funds expended on the first Christian Crusade. We know the rest of that story.

What's in a name? Plenty. Cordorba represents the 600 year invasion and conquest of Spain and Portugal. That invasion, by Muslims, led to a crusade to counter that invasion. That was not peace, that was living under the sword and the only peace was the grave.

We have had to bury 2,976 Americans, with more than 6,000 other victims as a result of that infamous attack on September 11, 2001 by Islamic fundamentalists.

If moderate Muslims really wish to reach out to still grieving family and friends, I urge them to understand the sensitivity required to heal these wounds. Building an Islamic Mosque, just two blocks from the attack by Islamic religious fundamentalists is not the smart way to do this. Naming it the “'Cordorba House” is just adding insult to injury.

As-Salāmu `Alayk(um); Pax Vobiscum; Shalom.


Thomas F. Stokes

Middletown, NJ