A PUBLIC discussion of mainstream Islam has finally begun in earnest in mainstream America. Some people thought it would take a nuclear bomb going off in downtown Manhattan. Nobody anticipated something as simple as a proposed mosque.
Before the mosque proposal, a "Washington Post poll released last year found that nearly half of Americans — 48 percent — have an unfavorable view of Islam. That's nine points higher than in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks." Source
What that says to me is that the events of 9/11 woke up nine percent of the population to the doctrines of Islam. The poll was taken before the Ground Zero mosque issue, and I would venture to guess the percentage has risen higher than 48 percent already.
We're waking up. Non-Muslims are gaining an unfavorable view of Islam. The more people learn about it, the more people have an unfavorable view, of course. If you are a non-Muslim and learn anything about Islamic doctrine, you will have an "unfavorable view" of Islam. What is there to like about the Muslim imperative to subjugate non-Muslims if you're a non-Muslim?
The attempt to build a mosque so near Ground Zero has been a great opportunity to educate our fellow non-Muslims about Islam. Because it's a news item, because it's being discussed in newspapers, on the radio, and on television, Islam is suddenly an acceptable topic of conversation. In fact, people are bringing up the issue. Several people (who have shown little interest in the past) have volunteered questions to me because they were already aware I know something about Islam, and now they have some curiosity.
In all the controversy and debate, the real issue in question is whether or not the Muslims who are planning this mosque share the same ideology and goals as the hijackers. In order to answer that question, people need (and now want) to know what Islam's ideology and goals are.
As Raymond Ibrahim said in his article, Why the Ground Zero Mosque is Counterproductive to the Islamist Cause, the mosque proposal is the most costly mistake orthodox Muslims have made since they flew planes into the World Trade Center. Ibrahim wrote:
Before the Islamist strikes of 9/11, mainstream America was incognizant of the threat posed by radical Islam. Islamic apologetics and anti-U.S. polemics were unquestioned orthodoxy, not only in their natural habitat — academia — but more generally.
After 9/11, however, the veil was partially lifted: a flood of books dealing with Islam, political Islam, jihad, sharia, "dhimmitude," and any number of related topics appeared; politically incorrect books on Islam became bestsellers.
And now mainstream attention has been focused once again on Islam. Let us do our best to successfully introduce as many people as possible to some solid, fundamental information about it. This is our chance. Let's not squander it. Let's not get sidetracked on partisan issues. Let's not turn people away from our information with anything unrelated. Let's get as much basic information about Islam into peoples' minds as we can, while the window is open.
Where should you start? Here's my suggestion: The Least You Need to Know About Islam.