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Passion Islam I March 2009 ORLD NEWSW I 17
Scholar calls for preserving
US Muslims
Islamic archeological sites
and Jews seek
new beginning
Muslims and Jews, a tiny slice of the
U.S. population, are looking for new
ways to get along that could set a
worldwide example for two ancient
but often alienated faiths, religious
leaders and experts say.
“I’ve encountered (among
Muslims) a more centrist, a more
moderate voice that is looking to the
Jewish community to help project that
voice ... to the greater world,” said
Rabbi Marc Schneier of New York,
speaking of a national summit of
Muslim imams and Jewish rabbis he
helped organize earlier this year.
He also cited a recent incident
in a New York subway “where four
young Jews were being verbally
Prominent Saudi scholar Sheikh Dr. and Antiquities, touched upon the
and physically assaulted on a train
Abdul Mohsen Al Obaikan, who is issue of the removal or demolition
for wishing the passengers a happy
also an adviser at the Royal Court, of historical sites, the importance
Hanukkah, and the only individual
has addressed the controversial of establishing museums to correct
to come to their rescue was a young
issue of archeological sites and misconceptions about the Kingdom’s
Muslim man,” Hassan Askari, of
their preservation. Al Obaikan, history, and various steps being taken
Bangladeshi heritage, who was
commenting on demands to remove to restructure the nation’s tourism
or fence off Islamic archeological sector.
“That is a very, very powerful
sites, said there was a difference Prince Sultan said that the
example” of what can happen. The
between preserving archeological Kingdom’s historical sites and
challenge is to try to strengthen
sites for educational purposes and antiquities are protected by a national
Jewish-Muslim cooperation and
the “polytheism practiced at the sites will extended from Custodian of the
have it serve as a paradigm for
by ignorant people”. “We can’t ask Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
communities around the world,”
for these places to be destructed just “National antiquities are protected and
added Schneier, who founded the
because of the ignorance of some,” no one on earth can demolish, destroy
New York Synagogue in Manhattan
Al Obaikan continued. “There were or touch them … We respect people’s
and also the Foundation for Ethnic
people who practiced such things keenness and we take guidance
inside the Holy Kaaba and next to the from religious scholars, and we are
On another front, leaders of the
Prophet’s grave. Should these two determined that these archeological
Islamic Society of North America
places also have been removed?” sites will not be turned into places that
and the Union for Reform Judaism,
Al Obaikan said that the only right encourage heresies which encroach
representing respectively the largest
way is to make people aware of the on our faith,” he said. Prince Sultan
U.S. Islamic organization and the
erroneous practices by appointing also stressed the importance of
largest organized Jewish segment in
people at the sites to act as guides to correcting misconceptions through
the country, have agreed on a tutorial
visitors. “We can’t say no if someone enlightenment and development of
for dialogue.
wants to visit Al Bay’ah Mosque museums for displaying antiquities
“We need to get the truth about
where Al Ansar swore allegiance to because they are part of history.
each other from one another,” said
the Prophet (peace be upon him), or “Islamic history did not happen on the
Ingrid Mattson, president of the
with Ghaar (cave) Hera’a and other moon but in the Arabian Peninsula. It
Islamic group.
sites. In an interview to Okaz daily, is impossible to ignore the cultural
Rabbi Eric Yoffie of the Reform
Prince Sultan bin Salman, Chairman history of the Kingdom.”
group told his followers the two
of the Saudi Commission for Tourism
religions share “ancient monotheistic
faiths, cultural similarities and, as
minority religions in North America,
email us on : experiences with assimilation and
or visit our website: discrimination.”
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