Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the Imam of Masjid al-Farah in New York City and
the founder of the American Sufi Muslim Association. A popular interfaith
speaker, he teaches Islam and Sufism at the Center for Religious Inquiry at
St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan and at the New York Seminary. He
spoke with Beliefnet recently about his book “What’s Right with Islam: A
New Vision for Muslims and the West.”
The name of your book is “What’s Right with Islam,” and sections of it
address “What’s Right with America.” What is right with both?
What’s right with Islam is what’s right with America, in the sense that the
fundamental ideals of Islam, the idea of what the right society should be,
are very similar to what the American idea of what the ideal society should
be, as expressed in our founding documents.
When Jesus was asked what are the greatest commandments, he said “love God
with all your heart” and, co-equal to that, “love thy neighbor.”
Islamic jurors basically expanded it. They said all the law–how God wants
us to live–is to protect and further five fundamental human rights: the
right to life, freedom of religion, family, property, and mental wellbeing.
What I do in the book is map that to the American Declaration of Independence.
It’s interesting that you call America a sharia-compliant state.
It really means there’s a religious commandment to build the right society,
to have a sense of social justice and a social safety net, to have laws
that take care of human beings, that aren’t prejudiced against people.
You say that, contrary to what some non-Muslim Americans believe about
Muslim countries, such societies can be religious and yet respect other
religions and not be dominated by one religion..