FCNA Statement on Possible Forfeiture of Some Mosques
Garden Grove , CA: “The Fiqh Council of North America [FCNA] expresses concern about recent legal actions of the US Department of Justice seeking the forfeiture of some Muslim places of worship in the United States,” says an FCNA statement. It adds: “Given its mission as an Islamic juridical body, FCNA feels duty-bound to express its position in view of the potential impact on the religious communal acts of worship of the Muslim community in the United States.
“FCNA stands strongly in support of the freedom of belief and worship of all faith communities, which includes respecting the autonomy of places of worship and related religious institutions such as religious schools. We take note of the Qur'anic reference to safeguarding and protecting places of worship of all people:
“ ‘…If Allah [God] would not repel some people by means of others, many monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where Allah’s name is much invoked, would surely be destroyed…’ (Al-Hajj, 22:40)
“We note also that this verse mentions explicitly monasteries, synagogues, and churches together with mosques as places of worship that should be defended and safeguarded. This has led several Muslim scholars to conclude that it is the duty of Muslims to defend the places of worship of other faith communities, as they defend their own mosques.
“It is to be emphasized that such a basic human right is guaranteed by the US Constitution. It is also one of the objectives of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a body monitoring religious rights of minorities all over the world
“We believe in the rule of law, due process and fairness. Any alleged violation of the law by individuals, donors or groups managing places of worship should be dealt with in a manner that does not jeopardize the legitimate religious interest of the Muslim community. After all, places of communal worship and related religious institutions, especially Islamic schools, in the United States are pivotal to the religious life and unity of the Muslim community, both Sunnis and Shiites. Many places of worship are also focal points for existing and potential intra-faith and inter-faith dialogue, both of which aim at the promotion of peaceful co-existence and hence security of all.
“The possibility of forfeiture of places of worship is a matter of grave concern not only to the Muslim community in the United States, but also to the worldwide 1.6 billion Muslim community, with which it is essential for the United States to build badly needed bridges of mutual understanding, respect and co-operation for the good of all people. Free and unrestricted access to places for worship and religious education should be regarded as a global issue. It is in that universal spirit of justice and tolerance enshrined in normative Islamic teachings that FCNA calls for the safety and protection of churches, synagogues and other places of worship of minorities in Muslim countries and elsewhere.
“FCNA calls on the leadership involved in the management of mosques and Islamic institutions to conduct their operations, especially finances, in a lawful, transparent and professional manner, with specific attention to highest standards of ethics and due diligence. Mosques in particular are reminded to be centers to project and promote the true message of Islam - the message of tolerance, justice, peace, acceptance of plurality and human brotherhood.
“FCNA recognizes that the Department of Justice’s forfeiture actions against mosques raise the specter of similar pursuits against churches, synagogues and other places of worship. We invite focused engagement amongst representatives of different faith communities to address these shared concerns from a common viewpoint.”