Of the three monotheistic religions, Judaism is considered the mother faith and the other two, Christianity and Islam, her daughters.
The first daughter, Christianity, under the influence of the early church fathers, rejected the mother and distanced herself from Judaism, even to the extent of changing the Sabbath from the seventh day, Saturday, to Sunday and renaming it the Lord's Day. Seventh-Day Adventists retain Saturday as their Sabbath.
The younger daughter, Islam, under Muhammad, turned on both the Jewish and Christian tribes of Arabia, who declined to accept that Muhammad was the Messenger of God and the "Seal of all the Prophets." Both Jews and Christians rejected the claim of the new faith that it alone ushered in "God's final revelation."
After Rome embraced Christianity under Constantine, the Church fathers increasingly used temporal powers to discriminate against the Jews and proscribe and mock the practice of their faith. In time, this led to the horrors of the Crusades, the Catholic inquisition, forced conversions, pogroms, and ultimately, to the Holocaust.
Islam's followers tolerated those they called the "people of the Book," the Jews and Christians, whose faith was based upon the Bible. But Islam, too, practiced forced conversions, pogroms, massacres, and the discrimination of Jews and Christians through the practice of dhimmitude, whereby the "infidels" were forced into second-class status and forced to pay a tax, the jizzya, as a penalty for remaining outside the Islamic faith while under Muslim control.
Like Christendom, Islam often forced the Jews to live in ghettos, called mellahs. Islamic authorities were the first to coerce Jews into wearing distinctive and often humiliating clothing, preceding the German Nazis by centuries. The Nazis and their European allies forced the Jews into wearing a yellow Star of David, thus marking them for death.
But history is replete with accounts of both daughter religions fighting each other for centuries over territory. When not slaughtering each other, they both often turned upon the hapless and stateless Jews, who, for the most part, had no allies and were unable to defend themselves.
The mother has ample reason to weep at the ferocious degradation and scorn her daughters have heaped upon her with such violence and ingratitude. But many Christians -- not all -- have come to the realization that biblical Jewish roots are inextricable from their own and that their faith is fatefully incomplete without an acknowledgment of those roots.Islam, too, is immensely indebted to Judaism. According to Abraham I. Katsh, author of Judaism and the Koran,
... like the Jew, the Moslem affirms the unity of God, that He is one, eternal, merciful, compassionate, beneficent, almighty, all-knowing, just, loving and forgiving.
Like Judaism, Islam does not recognize saints serving as mediators between the individual and his Creator and both faiths believe that each individual is to follow a righteous path and secure atonement by improving his or her conduct and by practicing sincere repentance. But there is another essential and integral part of Islam not shared with Judaism: Jihad.
As Katsh points out in his book, originally written as far back as 1954,
the duty of Jihad, the waging of Holy War, has been raised to the dignity of a sixth canonical obligation, especially by the descendants of the Kharijites. [...]
To the Moslem, the world is divided into regions under Islamic control, the dar al-Islam, and regions not subjected as yet, the dar al-harb.
Between this 'area of warfare' and the Muslim dominated part of the world there can be no peace. Practical considerations may induce the Muslim leaders to conclude an armistice, but the obligation to conquer and, if possible, convert never lapses. Nor can territory once under Muslim rule be lawfully yielded to the unbeliever. Legal theory has gone so far as to define as dar al-Islam any area where at least one Muslim custom is still observed.
Thanks to this concept, the Moslem is required to subdue the infidel, and he who dies in the path of Allah is considered a martyr and assured of Paradise and of unique privileges there.
Here one can understand clearly that peace -- true and lasting peace -- between Islam and nations that adhere still to Judeo-Christian civilization, or to Hinduism, Buddhism, or all other faiths, is a forlorn and baseless hope.
The "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians, for example, is thus a grand illusion, endlessly fostered by Western politicians and diplomats, along with self-deluded Israeli leaders, who all refuse to see a reality that has existed since Islam's creation in the 7th century.
And it is in one abiding respect that this endless spiritual and temporal conflict is seen in its most practical and historical context -- the conversion of places of worship into mosques.
The result has been that since the time of Muhammad, synagogues, churches, Hindu temples, Zoroastrian temples, and pagan shrines have been all too often violently converted into mosques.
After the conquest of Mecca in the year 630, Muhammad transformed the Black Stone in the Ka'aba, which ancient pagan Arabs had worshiped, into the paramount Islamic holy place. It became known as the Masjid al-Haram, or Sacred Mosque.
During the Arab invasions of neighboring lands in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond, under the new banner of Islam, numerous synagogues and churches were converted into mosques. In Damascus, Syria, the church of St. John is now known as the Umayyad Mosque. Also in Syria, the mosque of Job was originally a church.
The Islamic tide swept into Egypt, and many Christian Coptic churches were converted into mosques. From North Africa, the conquests continued into Spain and Portugal, where again churches were converted into mosques. Interestingly, many churches had been built upon the sites of earlier Roman temples. But during the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula by Christian armies -- the Reconquista -- these same mosques were reconverted into churches.
In Gaza, the Great Mosque of Gaza was originally a Christian church. In Turkey, the Hagia Sophia Church was converted in1453 into a mosque and remained so until 1935, when it became a museum. Indeed, the Ottoman Turks converted into mosques practically all churches and monasteries in the territories they conquered.
The most well-known mosques, built upon previous non-Muslim holy sites, are the Al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount and the Dome of the Rock, also built upon the site of the two biblical Jewish Temples.
There are four holy cities of Judaism: Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed, and Tiberias. Hebron is the second-holiest city, and in it is the burial place of the Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs, known as the Cave of Machpela, where Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah are buried.
Herod the Great constructed an enclosure for the burial site. During the later Christian Byzantine period, a church was built upon the site, but this was destroyed in 614 by the Persians. Later, the Arab-Muslim invaders built a mosque in its place.
Jews were not permitted to worship at their nearly-four-thousand-year-old holy place by the Muslim Arabs. They could only ascend to the seventh step leading to the tombs. Indeed, they were refused this right as a place of worship from the 7th century until 1967, when Israel liberated the territory from the Jordanian occupiers. Even before the Israeli liberation, a horrifying massacre of Jewish residents in Hebron by their Arab Moslem neighbors took place in 1929 while under the British Mandate of the geographical territory known as Palestine.
Prior to the present-day Palestinian Authority assuming control of the city of Nablus, which was the ancient biblical Jewish city of Shechem, the Tomb of Joseph, the biblical figure, was a place of Jewish pilgrimage. When it was handed over to the PA, as one of seemingly endless Israeli concessions, the tomb was desecrated by a Moslem mob, which proceeded to convert it into a mosque.
On the Indian subcontinent, Hindu temples were similarly converted into mosques. Lately, Hindu nationalists have reconverted some mosques into temples, and, as in so many other parts of the world, considerable bitterness exists between Moslems and members of other faiths or those of no faith.
Mosques now occupy vast numbers of places of worship for other faiths. In Algeria, the Great Synagogue of Oran is now a mosque after the Jewish population was driven from Algeria. Many other synagogues throughout the Arab world are now mosques from after the Jewish inhabitants were expelled.
In the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkey, many Greek Orthodox churches in northern Cyprus were converted into mosques. And the process continues.
Saudi Arabia invests endless billions of dollars to build mosques throughout the world. The international blanketing of cities with mosques is just another expression of jihad. In western Europe, most famously renamed Eurabia by the writer, Bat Yeor, there may soon come a time when there will be more minarets than steeples.
Perhaps the most egregious and blatant example of Islamic triumphalism is the planned construction of a giant mosque in New York, almost upon the site of the horrific destruction of the Twin Towers by Moslem terrorists acting in the name of Allah.
The proposed mosque is to be opened in 2011 on the very anniversary of the September 11, 2001 atrocity -- a flagrant insult to the memory of the thousands of innocents who died at the hands of Moslem fanatics and believers, most of them Saudis.
But this, after all, is what jihad is all about. Subdue the "infidel" at all costs. The Islamic obligation to conquer and convert the unbeliever must never lapse. Its tangible manifestation can also be characterized as the mosques of war.
Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer and author of Volumes One and Two of Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.