Fouad Ajami, a Shiite Muslim and a professor at Johns Hopkins, in the Wall Street Journal, quotes a survey by Elaph, the London Arabic electronic daily news publication, which found that 58% of respondents to its poll opposed the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque and cites a better Islamic precedent.
There is a great Arab and Islamic tale. It happened in the early years of Islam, but it speaks to this controversy. It took place in A.D. 638, the time of Islam’s triumphs.
The second successor to the Prophet, the Caliph Omarâ€”to orthodox Muslims the most revered of the four Guided Caliphs for the great conquests that took place during his reignâ€”had come to Jerusalem to accept the city’s surrender. Patriarch Sophronius, the city’s chief magistrate, is by his side for the ceremony of surrender. Prayer time comes for Omar while the patriarch is showing him the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The conqueror asks where he could spread out his prayer rug. Sophronius tells him that he could stay where he was. Omar refuses, because his followers, he said, might then claim for Islam the holy shrine of the Christians. Omar stepped outside for his prayer.
We don’t always assert all the “rights” that we can get away with. The faith is honored when the faith bends to necessity and discretion.