Building Mosques on Sacred Sites of Defeated Enemies a Symbol of Conquest
The real issue behind the controversy that has erupted over plans to build a 15-story cultural center, mosque and madrassa a few yards from Ground Zero is not only about the mysterious funding behind the Cordoba Center initiative, or whether or not its founders and backers have malign intentions. It is primarily about understanding how Muslims across the world, in particular Islamists, would view the conversion of the site of the greatest Muslim attack on U.S. soil into a Muslim house of worship. Given the long history of mosque-building following Muslim military victories, the building of the Cordoba House on Ground Zero will be seen in the same light as the Muslim conquests of Mecca, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. Whereas Americans hope that the attacks on New York City and Washington are seen as the clarion's call for aggressive American action to counter Islamist ideology, the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque will be seen by the same Islamists as its first step towards the decline of America.
Bin Laden and his Islamists would love nothing better to plant the flag of Islam in the cultural capital of the West. This would not be read in the Muslim world as a sign of the West's tolerance, but of its weakness. In its long history of conquest, Islam has habitually converted the sacred shrines of its enemies into mosques and madrasas. A cursory look at the world's most famous mosques lays bare the fact that many were former houses of worships of defeated enemies.
Islam's most sacred site, al-Kaaba, in Mecca was a pagan shrine that predated Islam by hundreds of years. Mohammed himself, after his army's conquest of Mecca in 630, destroyed hundreds of idols, proclaiming the truth of his new religion, and, since, it has become the hub of the annual Muslim pilgrimage, hajj, and a core pillar of Islam. Following the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, the Ummayad Caliphate proceeded to build the Dome of the Rock, the Masjid Qubat al-Sakhra, on top of the Jewish Temple Mount in 689. Inscribed on the inner walls of the shrine are clear warnings to Christianity, professing Islamic supremacy. Sprawled on the inner octagonal arcade, flowing counterclockwise, the dedication warns Christians and Jews to "not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning God save the truth" and threatens the Christian Trinity by insisting that "The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His Word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and say not 'Three' - Cease! (it is) better for you! - God is only One God." Whoever believes that God had a son, "whoso disbelieveth the revelations of God (will find that) lo! God is swift at reckoning!" Having defeated their Christian enemies, the Umayyads built a grand mosque on top of Judaism's most sacred site that contained a clear declaration of Muslim supremacy over their brother Abrahamic religions.
Similar conversions were ordered as the Muslim conquests expanded across Africa and Europe. The Grand Mosque of Damascus, also known as the Umayyad Mosque, was converted from a church dedicated to John the Baptist in 705. The world-renown Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was a thousand year-old Christian church before being transformed into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. It was only converted into a museum in 1935 by ultra-secularist and Turkish founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Over the long history of Muslim territorial advance, thousands of mosques, from Spain to India, were built on sites of important religious or political value to their defeated foes.
Supporters of the project might argue that the actions of invading Muslim armies over a millennia ago are irrelevant to the issue at hand in lower Manhattan. However, it is impossible to separate the recent decline of such a trend with the parallel decline and territorial recession of Muslim lands in the second half of the second millennium. Moreover, recent territories that have returned to Muslim rule following decolonization have seen the return of the conversions of religious sites into mosques. Muammar Qaddafi, the ruler of Libya, converted 78 synagogues into mosques in the 1970s. In 1975, the Great Synagogue of Oran was confiscated by the Algerian government and similarly transformed.
Proponents like to cite the namesake of the Cordoba House complex as evidence of its goal of tolerance and pluralism, referring to the relative tolerant attitude of Muslim Spain to its Jewish and Christian minorities. Those proponents, however, should recall that the Great Mosque, or Mezquita, of Cordoba was itself a Visigoth Church that was converted and rebuilt as a mosque following Muslim conquest in 784, lasting nearly 500 years before it was recaptured and converted back into a Catholic cathedral.
Both survivors and the families of the victims of the September 11 attacks, as well as most prideful New Yorkers, have strongly objected to what they see at best as an insensitive project to, at worst, a malicious broadside against those who suffered tremendously on that day and since.
It has even divided the organized Jewish community, pitting a vehemently supportive J Street against a nuancedly opposed Anti-Defamation League. The mosque, run by the Cordoba House, claims to be promoting the project not only for functional reasons, but also for civilizational ones. Its supporters say that its aim is to use the 9/11 tragedy and the location of the Ground Zero Mosque as a message of tolerance and compromise in America. By hoping that Americans would never buy into the "Us against Them" rhetoric espoused by Islamists, supporters are seeking to demonstrate the superiority of Western culture and liberalism. The fact that this is even a debate in America demonstrates American tolerance; it is illegal to build a church or synagogue anywhere in Saudi Arabia.
American government officials have been divided over the plan, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Governor Deval Patrick, and, most recently, President Obama himself in support and many local and national politicians, including Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, and Olympia Snowe, Congressman Peter King, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former Governors Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, in opposition.
But the symbolism could not be clearer: If the Cordoba's House supporters seek to emulate the tolerance of al-Andalus, the Arabic term for Muslim Spain, they are unwittingly declaring their possible acceptance of Muslim rule.
Reader comments on this item
|Expanding the non-Muslim places list [261 words]||Kundan||Nov 9, 2012 09:01|
|Dome of the Rock [45 words]||Fiona||Oct 13, 2012 14:44|
|Building Mosque after conquest [75 words]||Ric Wattie||Sep 3, 2010 06:39|
Comment on this item
by Timon Dias
"Arab leaders are a reflection of their people. Arab leaders don't come from Mars or the sun, they emerged from among the people and share the same beliefs... I challenge any Arab citizen who may become a ruler to do anything beyond what current Arab leaders are doing." — Anwar Malek, Algerian author.
If anyone was trying to commit "genocide" during the Gaza War, it was clearly Hamas.
What the protestors in the Netherlands also revealed is that a killed Palestinian is only worth demonstrating for when the blame can be pinned on Israel.
The normalization and common approval of slogans that actually call for the destruction of the entire Jewish State, Israel, contribute to an atmosphere of hatred, violence and anti-Semitism that now seems as acceptable as it is overt.
by Anne Bayefsky
Why couldn't the UN... sponsor a conference on combating global antisemitism?
In theory the UN Charter demands equality of... nations large and small. In reality the UN mass-produces inequality for Jews and the Jewish nation.
The UN has launched a "legal" pogrom against the Jewish state. A "legal" pogrom is a license to kill.
Modern antisemitism targets Israel's exercise of the right of self-defense because self-defense is the essence of sovereignty.
by Vijeta Uniyal
In Europe, displays of ferocity were clearly not a "spontaneous reaction" to the developing situation in Gaza. They were an opportune moment for many to act on their anti-Semitism by dressing it up as a supposedly "genuine concern" for human suffering.
In India, youth groups rallied to show their support for Israel, a fellow democracy under terrorist siege -- a pain known only too well by Indians, who have lost more than 30,000 of their countrymen to terrorism since 1994.
A majority if Indians, whose culture is not tainted by anti-Semitism, can see that Israel not only has the right to defend itself, but an obligation to protect its citizens from terrorism.
The media elites of Europe seem unable to see the threat posed to the West by radical Islamist ideology, which drives countless terrorist outfits, including IS, Hamas and al-Qaida. They also seem unable to distinguish their friends from their foes.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Many Arabs and Muslims identify with the terrorists' anti-Western objectives ideology; they are afraid of being dubbed traitors and U.S. agents for joining non-Muslims in a war that would result in the death of many Muslims, and they are afraid their people would rise up against them.
Many Arab and Muslim leaders view the Islamic State as a by-product of failed U.S. policies, especially the current U.S. Administration's weak-kneed support for Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki. Some of these leaders, such as Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, consider the U.S. to be a major ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi and his regime will never forgive Obama for his support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Also, they do not seem to have much confidence in the Obama Administration, which is perceived as weak and incompetent when it comes to combating Islamists.
by Peter Martino
Scottish independence would be a disaster for NATO, putting the UK nuclear deterrent in jeopardy. It would also put into question national borders all over Europe, including Catalonia, Belgium, France's Brittany and Corsica, Italy's South Tyrol -- and Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in 2008 that Kosovo's independence "would be the beginning of the end for Europe."
Crimea's recent secession from Ukraine was justified with a reference to "the Kosovo precedent," which Putin pointed out, "our Western partners created with their own hands."