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India example cited for Ground Zero mosque

world Updated: Aug 24, 2010 00:00 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

They are the first couple behind what has been described as the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ in New York. Kuwait-born Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, who was born in Srinagar, have been subject to attacks (and much support) over their plan for a multi-story Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero in New York. The couple may live and work in New York but they continue to maintain ties to India.

Imam Feisal, the person behind the Cordoba Initiative, has often visited India. He disclosed this during an interview back in February.

While discussing how Islam was still evolving in the United States, Imam Feisal pointed to his affection for India and has closely examined the evolution of Islam in India. He said while an American version of Islam had yet to emerge, Islam as practiced in India was unique. He also said earlier, “When Islam spread to Egypt, and Iran, and India, it restated its theology ... within the cultural context of those societies”.

He has often referred to India in his commentaries. When discussing the controversy over a Swiss nein to minarets, he wrote in an essay, “The Taj Mahal in India, considered the world's most beautiful building, has four minarets.”

His wife, Daisy Khan, immigrated to the US when she was 15, and has reminisced about her early years: “I was born in Kashmir, and throughout my childhood I discovered the value of celebrating multiple cultures and honouring all religions, and this prepared me for my future life and activism in the US.”

Neither Khan nor her husband is readily available to the media any longer. But back in February, they had spoken freely. Proximity to Ground Zero was the factor behind choosing that location for their project as Imam Feisal said in an interview then: “Because we’re so close to Ground Zero, it has made this space and this location very symbolic.”