I am not the only Malaysian Imam Feisal of New York has met. He has many Malaysian friends and acquaintances -- big and small - as he has deep connection with Malaysia, having lived here, I believe, in the 80s, when his father was with the International Islamic University in Petaling Jaya.
I was introduced to him in 2007 by his good friend, Datin Halimah Said, at a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia conference in Bangi.
A modern Muslim intellectual. Imam Feisal also joined Marina Mahathir, bloggers and friends at the inter-faith prayer gathering at the Blog House in Bukit Damansara, for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was recovering in hospital from a heart surgery in 2007.
When the controversy over the building of a mosque in Ground Zero exploded, I must confess I thought to myself :"Why-lah nak ada problem. Just don't build the mosque there. Surely there are other places you can build one. You know this is going to create a problem".
Call me less than brave or bold. I won't apologize for that. Perhaps I didn't quite know the real situation or what the whole project was about. Even so, the picture that I got was from initial reports on the controversy,
Sometimes, I suppose, you have to believe in your commitment and commit to your belief. Unflagging. Unremitting. Never say die.
Imam Feisal, who is the person behind this project, said nary a word, until just recently. he wrote in the New York Times about the project and what it means.
Excerpts from his article:
"Our broader mission — to strengthen relations between the Western and Muslim worlds and to help counter radical ideology — lies not in skirting the margins of issues that have polarized relations within the Muslim world and between non-Muslims and Muslims. It lies in confronting them as a joint multifaith, multinational effort."
"I am very sensitive to the feelings of the families of victims of 9/11, as are my fellow leaders of many faiths. We will accordingly seek the support of those families, and the support of our vibrant neighborhood, as we consider the ultimate plans for the community center. Our objective has always been to make this a center for unification and healing."
Read the rest HERE.