On Sept. 25, Dar ul Islam, a mosque in Elizabeth, N.J., is slating a massive Friday “jummah” prayer event at the west front of the U.S. Capitol; on the very site that President Obama gave his inauguration speech not so long ago. This is not a joke. Click on this site and the strains of the sonorous Islamic call to prayer (which will be heard at the Capitol, I am guessing), will flow from your computer’s loudspeakers. The mid-day summons to Allah will echo amongst Washington’s most august monuments, the site says “for the sole purpose of prayer.” And “the peace, beauty and solidarity of Islam will shine through the America’s capital.”
Solidarity? America’s Muslims have such on-and-off mosque attendance statistics, it’s impossible to get a realistic count of how many of them there are in this country. Methinks a lot of other religious groups aren’t going to be happy about this jummah rally. “A Day of Islamic Unity,” the event is called. Well, I guess if Louis Farrakhan could preach from the same spot during the Million Man March nearly 14 years ago, so can these folks. They’re talking about reserving 500 buses and talking about 50,000 attendees, so this could be one big clump of folks who head for lunch at Union Station afterward.
The Star-Ledger in Newark came out with the story about all this on Thursday. The idea, according to organizers, is to celebrate Muslims already being an integral part of American society.
Well, if you can have giant menorahs on the White House lawn each December, you can have Muslims praying about one-quarter mile to the north. So if Islamic muezzins will chant out the “adhan,” the call to worship, to folks kneeling on prayer rugs on the west front lawn, does that make the Capitol dome a minaret?
- Julia Duin, religion editor