The Ground Zero Mosque and Conquest

Having worked in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the home of its most extreme form, Wahhabism, I was shocked that a New York City neighborhood community board, in its ignorance, recently voted 29 to 1 to support a request to build a mosque and a Muslim center near Ground Zero.

Muslims have always built mosques on the sites of their conquests. The Prophet Muhammad himself made the Ka'aba, a pagan pantheon, into a mosque after he captured Mecca in 630 CE. The Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was deliberately built near the Temple Mount, the holiest places in Judaism. The Ummayad mosque in Damascus was built on the site of the Church of Saint John. Babri mosque in Ayodhya, India was built by demolishing a Hindu temple at the site of Hinduism's Lord Rama's birthplace. They built mosques on the sites of thousands of temples throughout India.

The request to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center is not accidental. It is astute and deliberate, as is the decision to call the place Cordoba House. Cordoba is city in Spain that resonates mightily in Muslim history. It was the capital of the Islamic empire in Spain. It was the place where Islam established its first caliphate in Europe. The Grand Cordoba Mosque was built where a Visigoth Christian church stood.

In 1932 Allama Iqbal, the spiritual father of Pakistan, when it was still part of British India, visited Spain to see the Grand Mosque, now called the Holy Cathedral. He prayed there though such worship was prohibited by the Spanish government, and composed a poem titled Masjid-e-Qurtaba that includes the following lines: "Sacred for lovers of art, though art the glory of faith. Thou hast made Andalusia pure as a holy land."

All devout Muslims are certain that Islam will someday conquer Spain because Islam teaches that once a place has been absorbed into the ummah, the worldwide community of Islam, it must remain Muslim forever. If the infidels retake Cordoba and Spain, for instance, then Muslims are obliged to conquer it again.

Though they cannot be measured, symbols are powerful in every civilization, especially the Islamic one. New Yorkers should remember that before they blithely allow Cordoba House to be built in their town.

The author, citizen of US, born in India has worked in India, Middle East, Europe and the US. An engineer by profession, he has studied Islam and Islamic history of India for the past two decades.
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