Sikhism and America were founded on the principle freedom of religion but what happens when politics meets religion? When it comes down to building a Mosque at Ground Zero, the issue becomes mostly about being politically correct and not hurting any sentiments. As a Sikh living in America, that means looking at this situation from a few different angles to really understand the whole situation and what it means to us. We have to look at it from the perspective of a Muslim, an American and then a Sikh.
This Mosque is being built for the Islamic Population of New York; hence it is very important to understand what it means to them. I am not a Muslim and I am not very knowledgeable about Islam but still I am going try to put myself in their shoes. If this issue was about building a Gurudwara Sahib Ji, I would feel it is my right to have a place to worship, than the same applies to everyone else, including the Muslims. After having this issue brought up and then not having the Mosque built would mean the Americans are blaming the whole Islam population for 9/11 and would recreate a tension filled atmosphere. The extremist can use this as an excuse to rally more youth against America. But at same time, if this Mosque is built as proposed in a community center, it will upset the Islamic population also. The current proposal includes a swimming pool, which from my understanding doesn’t really go with Islam teachings. You can’t swim in a burkha and all events held at the center would have to be careful about intermingling of the opposite gender. The Mosque being built as proposed opens a lot of doors for trouble and religious backlash. Mosque or no Mosque, Americans will have to walk on tight rope to keep everyone happy.
As Americans it’s our duty to protect religious freedom and to give justice to those that lost their loved ones on 9/11. To protect religious freedom, we can’t stop a religious group from building a place of worship. To give justice to the families of victims, we can’t allow a religious place of worship to be built on the Ground Zero because it is this religion that they blame for the loss of their loved ones. Yes not all terrorist are Muslims but how can we forget the terrorist that caused 9/11 were brainwashed by extremist of the Islamic Faith? I know as an American when I read first read about the idea, I was outraged. Our troops are still fighting the war against terrorism and dying every day and here we are trying to promote the very religion that is used to create extremist. Yes, we want to mend fences and move on but we how can we forget when our army is still over there? This Mosque can become the horrible reminder of the past and the present war or it can be the tool to move forward. This Mosque might be the perfect gesture for all of us to begin towards moving on. In this fashion we can honor our Muslim brothers and sisters that also lost their lives because of 9/11 and start working towards peace. We are Americans, we accept everyone that wants to better their lives and we accept their right to follow their religion, too.
Sikhs have a history of defending a religion that is not their own, Hinduism. The Ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahudar Ji, also gave up his life for the right of Hindu’s to follow their religion. So how can we say we won’t follow in the footsteps of our Guru and stick up for the Muslims to have a place to worship? We are the saint-soldiers and today we have to prove it. Sikhs have to fight for the right of the Muslims to have a place to worship and at the same time we have to support the fight against terrorism. That means supporting our troops through joining the army ourselves, or at least donating for their charities. It means signing petitions and letting people know you’re not against anyone’s right to follow their religion. Sikhs stand up for everyone and their freedom of religion, regardless of any outside factors.
As I access the issue from three different points of a Muslim, American and a Sikh, I come to the conclusion that it is important to go through with this proposal of building a Mosque. I propose if this charity really wants to make a difference and go through with building this Mosque, they need to change directions. This Mosque should not be built just to uplift Muslims, everyone suffered due to 9/11 and everyone deserves to be uplifted. In place of this Mosque they should consider building a library dedicated soul purpose of holding religious texts and have huge seminar halls dedicated to teaching people different religions of the world. If people understood each other better, maybe we can divert another 9/11. We need a center where people can use the halls to hold religious meetings (it could double as Mosque, Gurudwara, Church or any other religious center) and a place where everyone feel loved and welcomed. Why create a Mosque and community center? Wouldn’t it serve a better purpose if it could reach out to all the people, all the religions that were hurt during 9/11? We have Ground Zero because of religion; now let’s use religion to rebuild a better place. A place where Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jews and all other religions can live together in peace.