So, over the last few days, I've managed to find my way into a small section of the Pagan blogs, mainly due to some articles about the Ground Zero Mosque, known also as the Cordoba Mosque or Part 51. What I found there was not what I was expecting, though hardly surprising when one thinks about it.
It seems that there is a mixed reception towards the protests towards the mosque/community center.
On one side you have those Pagans who fear that this is an attack on freedom of religion and fear that the oppression of the Islamic minority in the US will soon turn against the Pagan Minority. These are justified fears, though I fear I detected more parroting of "liberal" party lines than I would have liked. It seems that those Pagans which hold this line are letting fear of a Christian majority blind them to just what Islam is. In some cases, they are far too eager to throw terms like racist and bigot at those that oppose the Mosque or Islam in general. Others, however keep a clear head and I will agree that they have a valid point. Some feel that the issue of the Mosque is a test case for minority religious rights. I personally don't see it as such. If it was a Pagan Temple, or Native American equivalent, or some other globally small and polytheistic religion, I would agree it as a test case for Pagan rights, but not with the size Islam is world wide.
On the another side, you have those Pagans that are opposed to the Mosque or Islam. They too, fear a hindrance on religious freedom, but are willing to question the end goals of Islam and those behind the mosque. They, myself included, argue that protesting or questioning the mosque is also a basic right, and something that should be done. They point out, correctly, that many of those protesting the mosque are doing so not because they wish to ban Islam, but because the victims families feel this is an insult to their dead. In this too, there are valid points.
Then there are those who seek to remain neutral. I too, fell into this category. This simple fact of the matter is, this is really isn't an issue that pertains to us Pagans and Heathens. We aren't going to worship there. We probably won't even be welcome inside. We can't even really say its an issue of minority vs majority, since Islam is the second biggest religion in the world, with over 1 billion followers. Christianity only has a few million more, and Muslims appear to be more devout than most Christians on average. Yes, Muslims are a minority here in America at the moment, but it is impossible to know how long that will last and looking at Europe will show that even a Minority of Muslims can wield great and terrible power for enforcing their beliefs on non-believers. Which leads to the question those Neutral Pagans I've come across are asking: What is the position of Islam on Paganism, especially those who are behind the Park 51/Cordoba/Ground Zero Mosque.
Well, thanks to a bit of research and to sites by the name of Gates of Vienna, I have the answer to that question. The Imam behind the Mosque is a proponent of Shariah Law, the Islamic Holy law. Some things to know about Shariah is that it is as valid today to Muslims as the Torah is to Orthodox Jews. The main difference is that where the Torah applies only to the Jews, Shariah applies to both Muslims and to non-Muslims (at least according to Muslims, anyways). So what does Shariah Law say about Pagans. Well, not a lot, and none of it is good. For instance, non-Muslims, esp pagans, are the descendants of pigs and monkeys. Though, perhaps the most relevant, and terrible part regarding Paganism, is a from the Quran, which is part of the basis behind Shariah and one of the holiest books to Islam. This section is known as the Verse of the Sword, 9:5
But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
The forbidden months refer to a peace treaty or a holy time for Muslims. After that time, it is commanded to do as the Quran commands until the Pagans repent (Convert) and take up the Five Pillars of Islam. Also of note, Charity in this case is Islamic Charity, which according to research is called Zakat, and may only be given to Muslims and a percentage of which must be given to those carrying out the task of spreading Islam to the world (jihad) through either violent means like those of terrorists, or non-violent means like the Mosque/Community center. It is also important to note that these are major tenants of the religion, and to change it is not permitted and punishable by death if such changes are made.
This is also something I found in relation to the above text: The venerated Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir wrote that
This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, "It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, every treaty, and every term.'' Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas commented: "No idolator had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Bara'ah was revealed. ...
In other words, no peace may be made with Idolaters and Pagans.
Another Key thing of importance is that under Shariah law, as well as the holy texts of Islam, it is considered acceptable to lie to Non-Muslims in the course of advancing the cause of Islam. That is no lie. It seems incomprehensible, both because for Pagans and Heathens, our word is a sacred oath and because for Christians and Jews lying is evil and they are always to speak the truth. Indeed, every major and minor religion in the world stresses the importance of being truthful, yet Islam does not. This is because in Islam, it is the only true religion and therefore all other religions not only do not have the right to exist, they don't even matter enough to be truthful with. They deserve whatever happens to them in the course of Islam gaining the Submission of the entire world in the name of Allah. In the end, this hurts Muslims, because it destroys the sacred trust of the Oath. Even if a Muslim was to swear before Allah he had not problems with Pagans, even should he be telling the truth, the Pagan can never be sure, because there is always the chance said Muslim is lying.
My heart is filled with sorrow at this. It is the right of all peoples to worship the gods of their choice. Yet this sacred right is disrupted by those who seek supremacy. Even if only one Muslim in a thousand wished for supremacy and all others wished for peace, there would still be enough to move to make Islam supreme and destroy all others. Sadly, a look in the newspapers, on television, or across the internet shows that the odds aren't even that good.
I'm not saying that Pagans should jump on the bandwagon opposing the Mosque. I'm not saying we should even push the bandwagon for supporting. What I'm saying is that we as a group, must move forward and research for ourselves those behind this Mosque, and the truth behind Islam itself. We have to move beyond words of hate, of racist and bigot. Both sides of this argument have noble and ignoble goals. We Pagans have learned hard the lessons of intolerance and bigotry at the hands of the Christians. I do not want to see us be taught that lesson again at the hands of the Muslims, should they want to teach it, which it seems many of them do. We must look past the races of those involved, and look to their ideas. Those who oppose this mosque have just as much right to their protests as those supporting have a right to support. We can't say yet that this is about Religious freedom, because as much as the Christians don't want the other religions, the Muslims don't want any other religions either.
We Pagans are caught in the middle, and we would do well to look at the Jews, who also have a long history of being caught in the middle. We have to be careful, and look out for ourselves. The Muslims have the numbers to protect their own. The Christians have the numbers to protect their own. We might not even have the numbers to protect ourselves, so we must be careful. That is why I am no longer neutral, because I feel we as Pagans and Heathens don't have that luxury. We must choose our path carefully, and our allies even more so.