One Imam, Multiple Messages
The truth about the main figure behind the Ground Zero mosque.


This is the first installment of a two-part essay. Part two will appear on National Review Online tomorrow.

Journalist and author Fareed Zakaria has made some grave accusations against those who oppose the building of the Islamic center near Ground Zero, and has predicated his own approval of the project on the moderateness of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Zakaria wrote that Abdul Rauf “has said one or two things about American foreign policy that strike me as overly critical — but it’s stuff you could read on The Huffington Post any day.”

Yes, indeed — you are likely to read similar “stuff” on the Huffington Post, since Rauf has written there. But how can that possibly constitute a convincing defense of Rauf? Many Huffington Post writers are anti-American, and believe that the U.S. had 9/11 “coming to it.” They still have not learned that 9/11 had nothing to do with U.S. foreign policy.

Rauf evidently has not learned that lesson either. On Sept. 30, 2001, 60 Minutes host Ed Bradley asked him if he thought the U.S. deserved the 9/11 attacks. Rauf replied, “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened. . . . We have been an accessory to a lot of — of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it — in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the U.S.A.”

It is worth noting Rauf’s words carefully. The atrocity is characterized in the passive: “a crime that happened.” This allows Rauf to avoid stating that it was Islamists who committed it. In his book What’s Right with Islam, Rauf even objects to the term “Islamism” — one that was actually concocted to avoid indicting Islam directly — since, he argues, it falsely implies that Islam is the source of the militancy.

The United States is accused of being an “accessory,” of somehow having “created” Osama bin Laden. According to Rauf on page one of What’s Right with Islam, because many Muslims around the world support Osama bin Laden, the United States is doing something wrong.

And incidentally, what Rauf wrote in the Huffington Post, soon after the rigged Iranian elections of June 12, 2009, is evidence that he is an admirer of the tyrannical theocracy in that country. After endorsing the “official results,” Rauf praised the 1979 revolution: “The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was in part to depose the shah, who had come to power in 1953 after a CIA-sponsored coup overthrew democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossaddeq. And in part it was an opportunity to craft an Islamic state with a legitimate ruler according to Shia political theory. . . . After the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took the Shiite concept of the Rightly Guided Imam and created the idea of Vilayet-i-faqih, which means the rule of the jurisprudent. This institutionalizes the Islamic rule of law. The Council of Guardians serves to ensure these principles.”

Then Rauf claims that the elections in Iran were a slow-but-sure step towards democracy: “[Obama’s] administration understands that what is going on now in Iran is an attempt by the Iranian people to live up to their own ideals. Just as American democracy developed over many years, the United States recognizes that this election is part of the process of an evolving democracy in Iran.” I wonder what Iranians in exile, or those risking their lives to protest that hideous regime, think about Rauf’s complacency about what is happening in Iran.

Here is Rauf’s advice to the president: “He should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution — to establish a government that expresses the will of the people; a just government, based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faqih, that establishes the rule of law.”

Rauf praises the tyrants in Iran and is apparently ready to accept their money for the Islamic center at Ground Zero, but he fails to explain the term vilayet-i-faqih to American audiencesThe term, literally “the guardianship of the jurist,” was developed by Ayatollah Khomeini in a series of lectures in 1969, and became the guiding principle of the government of Iran after he came to power in 1979. The concept is but an extension and slight modification of the Shia idea of walī, in which Ali and the imams succeeding him were considered guardians of the community, acting on behalf of God himself. Under this concept, the people of Iran are the wards of the ayatollahs, and the people of Iran owe the guardians absolute obedience in accordance with Sura IV verse 59 (“O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you . . .”). Secondly, the exclusive right of interpretation of Islamic law belongs to religious scholars. Thus there is nothing democratic about it — its totalitarian character should be evident. Rauf’s endorsement of this principle makes him the unequivocal defender of totalitarian Khomeinism.