Ground Zero Mosque still just a mosque

I believe there is a tendency for a good many people to assume all religions are basically equal, in terms of message anyway. For example, that all religions teach the Golden Rule in one form or another, and that common thread is what defines each religion. The average person is not going to take the time to read the holy books of the world’s major religions to make themselves privy the teachings of the religions, they will continue to recite the mantra of religious pluralism: “COEXIST”.  After all, there is no need, since all religions are basically innocuous, teaching good will toward men and to be a good person. Or do they?

The terms “Radical Islam”, “Moderate Muslim(s)”, and “Hijacked Religion” have come understood to imply Islam is generally like other religions but some of it’s adherents have distorted it’s message. They are interpreting the Qur’an in such a way as to find calls to war and violence where there are none. But is this true? Muslim terrorists claim justification for their violent actions from the Qur’an.  The question which belies us is are these claims of justification legitimate.

While there are verses in the Qur’an which do preach good will, it is only in the context of good will toward other Muslims. Every one of us knows a Muslim, or Muslims who are peaceful and friendly, unfortunately that is in spite of what the Qur’an commands, not because of it’s teachings.

(4.89) They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks

(4.144)  O ye who believe! Take not for friends unbelievers rather than believers: Do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves?

(5.51) O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.

(9:29) Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Fighting is considered a virtue according to the Qur’an:

(2.216) Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.

In fact the Qur’an even criticizes passive Muslims for not fighting:

(4.95) Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that these few verses are representative of the Qur’an’s overall teaching on dealing with unbelievers (non-Muslims). There are few Qur’anic verses which teach tolerance of other religious beliefs, and where the tolerance is advanced it is in earlier Meccan verses which are then abrogated by the later commands of Muhammad.  It is a common practice of Islam that once a land has been conquered, a mosque is built in order to show the strength and superiority of Islam:

  • In 630, Muhammad and 10,000 Muslim soldiers into Mecca and turned the pagans’ most prominent spot, the Ka’aba, into the Masjid al-Haram Mosque.
  • In 634, Caliph Umar conquered Syria and turned the Christians’ most prominent spot, the Church of Job, famous for being visited by Saint Silva in the fourth century, into the Mosque of Job.
  • In 637, Caliph Umar conquered Hebron and turned the second-most prominent spot in Judaism, the Cave of the Patriarchs, into the Ibrahimi Mosque. (This was repeated by Saladin in 1188.)
  • In 638, Muslim generals Amr ibn al-As and Khalid ibn al-Walid conquered Gaza and turned the prominent fifth-century Byzantine church into the Great Mosque of Gaza.
  • In 638, Caliph Umar conquered Jerusalem. In 691, Caliph Al-Malik ordered the Dome of the Rock built on the most prominent spot in Judaism, the Temple Mount, followed by Caliph Al-Walid building the Al-Aqsa Mosque there in 705.
  • In 651, Muslims conquered Persia and turned Zoroastrian temples in Bukhara and Istakhr into mosques.
  • In 706, after Muslims took Damascus from the Byzantine Empire, Caliph Al-Walid turned the prominent Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist into the Umayyad Mosque.
  • In 710, Gen. Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Pakistan, defiled the prominent Sun Temple in Multan, which house the great idol “sanam,” and erected a mosque.
  • In 784, after the conquest of Spain, Emir Abd ar-Rahman turned the prominent Visigothic Christian Church of Saint Vincent into the Great Aljama Mosque of Cordoba.
  • After the conquest of Egypt, Caliphs al-Mamun (813-833) and al-Hakim (996–1021) turned prominent Coptic Christian churches and Jewish synagogues in Cairo into mosques.
  • In 831, Muslims conquered Palermo, Sicily, and Asad ibn al-Furat turned the prominent Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption into the Great Mosque of Bal’harm.
  • In 1193, Muslims conquered Delhi, India, and Qutbuddin Aibak turned the Red Citadel in Dhillika, the most prominent spot of the last Hindu rulers, into the Qutb Minar Mosque.
  • From 1250-1517, Mamluk Muslims controlled the Golan Heights and used the ancient Synagogue of Katzrin as a mosque.
  • In 1387, Turkish Muslims conquered Thessaloniki and turned the Katholikon Monastery and the Church of Aghia Sophia, which housed the relics of Saint Gregorios Palamas, into mosques, as Symeon of Thessaloniki recorded:
  • “The greatest number of the buildings of the churches fell to them, of which the first was the Holy Church of the Savior. … These were trampled underfoot and the infidels rejoiced in them. … Most of the religious buildings in the city were despoiled, while altars were demolished and sacred things profaned.”
  • On May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople and turned the great Byzantine church, Hagia Sophia, into the Ayasofya Mosque. The largest church in Christendom for a thousand years, the church’s four acres of gold mosaics were covered with whitewash and Quran verses.
  • In 1458, Sultan Mehmet II conquered Athens and turned the Greeks’ most prominent spot, the Parthenon on Acropolis hill, into a mosque. When Venetian Gen. Francesco Morosini drove the Muslims out in 1687, a cannonball hit the gunpowder stored in the mosque, blowing it up.
  • In the 15th century, Ottoman invaders turned Saint Clement’s Macedonian Orthodox Monastery in Plaosnik, Balkans, into the Imater Mosque.
  • From 1519-1858, Muslim Mughal rulers gained control of India and turned over 2,000 Hindu temples into mosques, including demolishing the Temple of Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Rama, and replacing it with the Babri Mosque.
  • India’s Mughal Muslim ruler, Jahangir (1605-1627), wrote in Tujuk-i-Jahangiri:  “At the city of Banaras [was] a temple. … I made it my plea for throwing down the temple … and on the spot, with the very same materials, I erected the great mosque.”
  • In 1543, Hayreddin Barbarossa’s 30,000 Muslim troops wintered in Toulon, France, and turned the prominent Toulon Cathedral into a mosque.
  • In 1570, under Sultan Selim II Khan, Muslims conquered Paphos, Cyprus, and Gov. Mehmet Bey Ebubkir turned the prominent Christian church into the Great Mosque of Paphos.
  • In 1571, Muslims invaded Famagusta, Cyprus, and turned Saint Nicolas Cathedral, a rare Gothic church, into the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Nicosia, constructed in 1228, into the Selimiye Mosque.
  • In 1588, Sultan Murat III turned the Eastern Orthodox Church of Saint John the Forerunner in Constantinople into the Hirami Ahmet Pasha Mosque.
  • In 1781, after having conquered the Old City of Acre, Ottoman Muslims turned the Roman Catholic church built by Crusaders into the Jezzar Ahmet Pasha Mosque, where a hair from Muhammad’s beard is preserved.
  • In 1923, Muslims expelled Greeks from Turkey and turned Orthodox churches into mosques.
  • In World War II, Nazis allied with Bosnians and turned the prominent Artists’ Gallery Museum in Zagreb, Croatia, into a mosque.
  • In the 1950s, Muslims expelled Jews from Arab lands and turned synagogues into mosques.
  • Algerian Muslims warred against French colonial rule till France pulled out in 1962, after which the Cathedral of St. Philippe was turned into the Ketchaoua Mosque. Violence against Jews caused 30,000 to flee and the Great Synagogue of Oran was turned into the Mosque Abdellah Ben Salem.
  • In 1974, Turkish Muslims invaded northern Cyprus, and prominent Greek Orthodox churches were turned into mosques.
  • In 1981, Muslim immigrants to the Netherlands converted Amsterdam’s historic Catholic Sint-Ignatiuskerk into the Fatih Mosque, and a synagogue in The Hague into the Aksa Mosque.

This is historically representative of the pattern of Islam: invade, conquer, and convert. There are thousands of these mosques built in triumph across North Africa, India, and the Middle East. Just a couple years ago when the Park 51 project was being debated, Islamic supporters were complaining that it was being called a “victory mosque”.  The project was advertised as much more than a mosque, however, it seems plans have changed.

(NYPost) –[T]he developers behind Park51 insisted for two years that the project was more than a mosque, it now appears to be just that. Dozens of worshipers gather at the site on Park Place Friday for prayer services — but that’s the only activity in the building.

[…]

The Park51 Twitter feed was last updated in June, and its Web site lists no events. The Web site for the mosque, formally called Prayer Space, lists four services a day, and a handwritten note on the building’s window also advertises a 4 a.m. service.

Park51 organizers repeatedly refused to answer questions about what happened to the programs offered last fall and spring. Sharif El-Gamal, the lead developer behind the project, ducked out the women’s entrance for the prayer space and would not speak to a reporter.

Apparently we can add Ground Zero to the list of Victory Mosques.  I hate to say I told you so, but, well… you know.

Comments

  1. The same can be said, and has been said, for Christianity. I often see Christians responds with, “those verses are being taken out of context, only “believers” can truly understand what scripture means, etc.” It’s all of the same excuses. It seems you hold more in common than just believing in Abraham’s god.

    • That’s how you view it because you likely have little interest in understanding why certain distinctions are made. I have never heard any Christian say only Christians can understand the bible, that’s ludicrous. Of course it’s easier to hurl out of context verses and claim objections are excuses. It would be far more time consuming to actually learn about what you’re criticizing than it would be to farm complaints from Atheist bloggers.

    • Implicit in your complaint here is that you and others do not take the bible out of context. Is it possible that you constantly hear “you’re taking it out of context” because you are taking things out of context…constantly?

  2. John, I fear you’re failing to see the connection. A Muslim is likely to argue on the same grounds as you. Do you feel you have taken the verses out of context? I’m sure you do not. They’re also likely to argue that you need to spend more time “actually learn[ing] what you’re criticizing.” Your positions are analogous.

    • They are only analogous if I have not done my checking. Whether they offer that objection is irrelevant to whether its well founded or not. It doesn’t matter of the objection is the same, what matters is whether there’s anything to it or not.

      So instead of chiming in with an analogy of complaints, why not discuss the merits of the post, not the merits of hypothetical objections.

  3. What a howl! Care to step up and argue with all of the christians who kill abortion providers, blow up clinics or merely threaten bodily harm all in the name of your precious scriptures? You delicate and gentle christians have such a beautiful history of compromise and forgiveness….alas it has given birth to westboro baptists church and zealots who shoot parishioners while they are in church. But how could we hope that you would be any different than psycho zealot muslims when your very own history is marred with the ugliness of using the bible to justify white superiority, slavery, witch burnings, torturing heretics and the murders of so many quakers and so many native people here in NA.
    Trying to paint yourself in a better light! Hah! Listening to christian apologists blather on about how they are better than muslims is like listening to sarah pailin talk about foreign policy. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad….

    • Would you do me a favor and cite an instance where Christians killed abortionists and blew up clinics because they believed the bible blesses that behavior. Or are you just making an association: Christians did these things therefore…? Critics like yourself like to equate Christians doing bad things with ‘they claim the bible tells them to do it.’

  4. Of course, it would also be helpful to note just how few abortion doctors have been killed or threatened, how many clinics actually blown up regardless of religious affiliation of the perpetrators. Very few. This is an important distinction.

    Even more noteworthy, would be a list of those who claim they are better than non-Christians. I would love to see a list of all those people. It must be as much as six or seven people. Maybe even eight.

    Nash. You’re a stitch. Thanks for the comedy.

    • Thanks marsh for the math class in proportions. Talk about avoiding the conversation to the point of irrelevance. Too bad there isn’t a prize for arrogance,

  5. I know I find it a little irritating when someone who has not studied the Bible significantly, researched text and context and church history, presumes to say authoritatively, “THIS is what the Bible teaches… and what the Christian God demands…” The problem with skimming for conclusions is you come away with lightweight Bible study.

    John, do you presume to be a Muslim scholar, well-read and informed enough on the Qur’an to not be coming away with a lightweight Qur’an study? Do you presume to know better what the Qur’an teaches than those who love it and have studied it their whole lives?

    If you do, do you not find that presumptuous on your part?

    I know Muslims, folk who’ve studied their scripture and I believe them when they say that the Muslim extremists have got it wrong, just as Christian extremists have gotten the Bible wrong in the past. No offense intended, but I rather doubt that you have studied the Qur’an deeply or with a respectful eye towards seeking Allah and thus, you are likely coming across with a lightweight, shallow “interpretation” of the Qur’an in defense of an agenda, rather than seeking Allah.

    Am I mistaken?

    • Dan

      I dont find it presumptuous at all, especially when there are many muslims who do not object with the plain reading of the text. Why don’t you read the verses, in context since I provided links to the entire chapters, and you tell me if they’re out of context rather than just casting speculative generalized doubt? Do you have good reason to believe the passages are out of context, or is it your quasi-universalist, every religion is basically good and only fanatics corrupt it attitude shedding doubt?

  6. Let me put it this way: If I hear that a Muslim, devoted to Allah and the Qur’an and seeking Allah’s will, says that the Qur’an is not a book that advocates violence any more than the Bible advocates violence… and I hear a Christian opposed to Islam who SAYS he’s read some verses in the Qur’an and therefore, he “knows” Islam is a religion of violence and that is his support for hating Islam, I am going to put more stock into what the devotee and student of the Qur’an says rather than the person with the agenda against Islam.

    Seems reasonable to me and it seems extremely presumptuous to me for a NON-student of the Qur’an to presume to tell students of the book what it says and means.

    Perhaps you can understand how others would feel the same.

    Do I have reason to believe that your passages are out of context and being twisted? Yes, the many students of the Qur’an who say it isn’t so.

    Do I think “every religion is basically good…”? No, of course, not. Any religious group who twists the words of others for a political or religious agenda is not a good religious group. Does that mean that I think that folk like you (or folk who twist the Bible in a similar way) are evil? No, just human, fallen and prone to prejudice.

    • So how do you adjudicate between the Muslims who say they’re out of context and the ones who say they’re perfectly in context? I assume you have a hunch, and the ones who are the most friendly are telling the truth?

      Unlike you, I don’t think one needs to be a scholar to read a holy book and determine the context of a given verse. In fact, I urged you to read the verses in context. Did you do that? I doubt it. Comment back after you read the verses in context. If you return and claim they are too difficult to determine, then I will have no choice but to conclude you are being intellectually dishonest.

      PS. Dont you come back and focus on my last sentence. Put up or shut up, read the verses and tell me the the context and why my conclusion on the verses are not in context.

  7. Dan.
    Let me put it this way. That Muslim doesn’t tell you that Qu’ran do not advocate violence.

  8. So, the Bible CLEARLY literally teaches that God sometimes command’s God’s people to slaughter the enemy, including the children. To kill them all except the virgin girls who can then be taken home and forced into marriage with you. So that’s cool with you that people would assume this is how God operates?

    OR, would a more reasonable thing to do would be to listen to what Bible lovers advocate? AND, if some Bible scholars (or Qur’an scholars) advocate, “Yeah, it’s great to slaughter the enemy, even their children” we can deal with THOSE people and tell them, NO, you do not advocate reasonable, moral or Godly ideals.

    And those Mulims and Christians who advocate peaceably dealing with enemies, we can find common ground with them, based on reason and obvious Godliness, morality.

    Wouldn’t that be more reasonable?

    As to infights between the FEW Muslims who advocate violence and the MANY who advocate peaceful approaches, that’s between them and their followers, but it seems to me most reasonable to throw our support and comradery towards the ones who are advocating REASONABLE and self-evidently moral views of God/Allah and how we should behave. What do you think? Should we try to support/prop up the violent ones, instead?

  9. As to reading the Qur’an, I don’t have time today and I DON’T BELIEVE in shallow, one hour “studies” and that that sort of study without any depth represents intellectual honesty at all.

    Rather, YOU can more reasonably call yourself “intellecutally honest” when you’ve devoted years (or at least months) to serious, respectful study of the Qur’an.

    Again, it’s about the Golden Rule: Do you want non-Christian biblical critics saying THEY can define what the Bible says after a ten-minute “study,” do you think that is fair or reasonable? IF you don’t want them to treat the Bible that way, I would suggest you “do unto others” and not treat the Qur’an that way.

    Or is expecting that you’d do unto others how you’d want to be treated asking too much of someone from your faith tradition?

    • Ahh, so you wont even take a cursory look. It’s not surprising though. It would be impossible to conclude that they are taken out of context. Dan, you can’t judge religions or their texts based solely on the word of its adherents. At some point you have to do some real investigating, feelings just wont cut it.

  10. dan trabue says:

    “real ivestigation…”?? Tell me true, Johh, how many minutes have you spent “investigating” Islam?

    30? 60? two hours?

    Beyond reading the text, how many minutes have you researched context and reading muslim scholars?

    can you honestly say you have even spent one DAY in “research…”?

    • over the course of the past five years? Probably at least a total of a few months. I’ve read the Quran through once, then full Suras multiple times, much of Bukhari’s Hadith, and read books by former Muslims who offer their insight on the religion. I read news articles from outside sources, I read news articles from pro-Muslim sources. I don’t avoid the subject then claim my soft understanding is probably the right one because its more loving that other understandings. My head is neither in the sand or up my rear, Dan. Dan, before you let Islam off the hook, I suggest YOU spend time in it, rather than speculating on it based on the couple Muslim’s you claim to know.

  11. Fair enough, John, you’ve done some research. I apologize for doubting that.

    As far as how do we deal with those FEW in Christianity or in Islam who take their sacred scripture to mean that violence is good to God, we all ought to stand opposed to THEM. Why? Because obviously God is not a God of violence, God is not a God of harm to the innocents, HOWEVER someone might take their holy texts. That the God of love is not a God of violence towards the enemy, towards innocent bystanders, this is self evident and we don’t need holy scripture to tell us otherwise.

    I have no problem with Christians taking their holy texts literally UNLESS and UNTIL they think it means that God supports deadly violence.

    I have no problem with Muslims taking their holy texts literally UNLESS and UNTIL they think it means that Allah supports deadly violence.

    It is reasonable and rational to me that the deadly violence towards innocents, THAT is what needs to be opposed. Not the Qur’an itself, not the Bible itself, not Islam itself, not Christianity itself.

    I still maintain that I take more seriously the research and study and meditations of Muslim lovers of the Qur’an who say you are mistaken than I do people like you (even if you have done research, because you are starting with an agenda against Islam – is that a safe conclusion?).

    Many atheists who don’t like Christianity or the Bible can find justification for violence in our holy scriptures, but that doesn’t mean it’s what we advocate.

    Do unto others…

    • Why are you diverting the discussion to Christians and Christianity and the Bible. The topic is Muslims and Islam and the Quran — and you presuming the best with admittedly nothing to go on other than what you feel would be the true interpretations. I notice that you still have not said you’ve read the Suras in question to try to determine if they are out of context. Why wont you do that? Do you think you need to be guided through it by “professionals” otherwise you can’t understand it? That’s usually how cults work you know.

  12. I presume nothing. I know for a fact that many Muslims – people I either know directly or have dear friends who know directly – don’t accept YOUR Christian interpretation of their holy scriptures. Factually, this is the way it is. They GENUINELY disagree with your interpretation and while you may have truly studied it for an entire six months, that is nothing compared to their lifetime of devoted study of their holy writ.

    As with Christians, WHO gets to decide the “right” interpretation? Does the FACT that some atheists claim that our Scriptures teach that killing the children of the enemy is a good thing mean that this is the “right” interpretation? No, of course not.

    I begin with the crazy suggestion that those who respect and devote themselves to a holy text are the ones best suited to say, “Yes, this is what it means.”

    As with the Bible, it IS open to interpretation. People CAN and DO get bad interpretations from texts. In the case of the many Muslims who disagree with you, I suspect that they are in a better place to judge its best interpretation than an enemy of the text (would you describe yourself as an enemy of the Muslim texts?), or at least one prejudiced against the text.

    Ultimately, of course, I don’t care a whole lot for what I know of Muslim texts. If I agreed with it, I’d be a Muslim, wouldn’t I? But I’m just looking for a fair and balanced approach to what it says. I don’t think it reasonable that an enemy of the text is a better source to interpretation than a devotee of the text.

    Do you?

  13. “Again, it’s about the Golden Rule: Do you want non-Christian biblical critics saying THEY can define what the Bible says after a ten-minute “study,” do you think that is fair or reasonable?”

    All I want is for anyone who cares to do so to read either book and make the case that it says what they think it says. It would be nice to hear you do that, Dan, about an issue or two still in question after all these years. But if a non-Christian wants to try and make the case that there is any place in the Bible that suggests God wants us to murder non-Christians in His name, I’m up for it. Bring it on. The passages John has listed has been brought up countless times by people who have indeed studied islam, such as Robert Spencer for example, and have come to their conclusions, which match John’s to a great extent, by virtue of the teachings of islamic apologists since its inception. Rather than simply swallow what some well intentioned muslim person tells you, why not question them on these questionable passages and see if they can explain why a simple reading is insufficient to decipher what it clearly says?

  14. Dan.
    If is a religion of peace, why Islam expanded so fast thorough the world by war and constraint since its beginnings?
    Were not for the franks and byzantines defense they would have conquered Europe.
    The Sura 9 is quite clear and gives no way for a peaceful interpretation.

  15. Islam, like many religions, is ultimately a human response to their God. That being the case, Islam is what its followers make it. MOST of Islam’s followers have made it a religion of peace these days. That was not always the case.

    In the past, many more Christians and Muslims were willing to wage war in the name of their god.

    So, again, ultimately, Islam is what its followers make of it. That being the case, I support the more rational, more numerous Muslims who make Islam a religion of peace.

    If ANYONE wants to wage war and kill in the name of their god, I will oppose such efforts, whether they’re Christians, Muslims or whoever, as not being moral or rational followers of a true good God.

  16. Of course, Dan, like so many, it is not possible to make any comparisons without having to go back in history. But again, and this is the point of the post here, as well as the point made by so many in recent years, it is not what the adherents wish to believe their holy books say, it is what it actually says. The excerpts re-printed in the post show pretty clearly what the religion teaches. There is no parallel in the Christian Bible without ignoring the context in which any supposed piece of evidence is said to be found. THAT is a significant difference. What is more, as long as the quran says what it says, there will always be those who follow what it says and no one, even some goofy Anabaptist Kentuckian, can pretend or suppose they might be “mistaken” in their interpretation.

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