But at the time, six years back, many of the proggies were quite happy with Feisal Abdul Rauf (although, I've not been able to find any specific references of Ibish lovin' Rauf - if someone does, please leave that info. in the comment section.)
Here we have an article by Raheel Raza of the reactionary statement issuing mill Muslim Canadian Congress written in November of 2004 on the founding of the PMUNA (I refuse to link to their website, but a google search will turn up references).
I went to NYC ostensibly to attend the launch of the Progressive Muslims Union of North America and I got there two days early. My hosts in Manhattan are part of a group that had decided that through science and technology, Ramadan and Eid can be predicted in advance so that Muslims can begin and end together. The decision was for a Sunday Eid and they invited me to join them at the Eid prayer and celebration.
We drove to the Dorral Arrowood Convention Center in Rye Brook New York where the auspicious event was arranged by ASMA (American Sufi Muslims Association). 300 men, women and children prayed together in the great Ballroom – yes, side by side with no partition. These people have broken away from the traditional mosque culture (where usually women are relegated to another area) because they want to offer prayers with their families, friends and loved ones, and they took another bold step by inviting an Imam of their choice. And what a brilliant choice!
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a dynamic man with a vision as large as his heart. Author of a new book titled “What’s Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims in the West”, he was educated in England and Malaysia and has a degree in Physics from Columbia University. Founder and CEO of the American Sufi Muslim Association (ASMA Society) and Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, a mosque in New York City, twelve blocks from Ground Zero, he has dedicated his life to building bridges between Muslims and the West and is a leader in the effort to build religious pluralism and integrate Islam into modern American society.
Regarded as one of the world’s most eloquent and erudite Muslim leaders, Imam Feisal is a charismatic public speaker and has appeared in national and international media such as CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and BBC. He has been quoted in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Jerusalem Post, and Associated Press.
The Imam’s sermon could have been easily accepted in a church, synagogue or temple as he spoke about two kinds of religion – good and bad. He talked about Islam with a small “i” and said it means submission to God by anyone: Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist. This must have sat well with John Bennet, a lone Buddhist in the congregation who heads Imam’s Feisal’s Cordoba Initiative. Imam Feisal is the architect of the Cordoba Initiative, an inter-religious blueprint for improving relations between America and the Muslim world and pursuing Middle East peace. As a tireless advocate for an ecumenical solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he has impressed his vision on US lawmakers and administration officials, most recently as member of the National Inter-religious Initiative For Peace in Washington DC.
Young people surrounded the Imam after the sermon but the surprise did not end there for me. Following the prayer, there was brunch and live music – some enthusiastic families also indulged in a bit of ‘bhangra’. I was also astounded to see the Imam’s wife does not cover her head. Daisy Khan leads women in prayer at their mosque and is involved in interfaith dialogue at an international level. Upon my questioning, she said “I’ve done my own ijtihad (research and reasoning) and found that modest dress is what is required so I believe this is fine for me.” Wow, I felt I had found the ‘progressive’ Muslims.
And now she has this to say about Abdul Rauf:
"A hundred million dollars can help people sell their souls" (3:26)