A Hamas leader recently approved of the mosque at Ground Zero, saying: “We have to build everywhere.”
How many mosques have been built in this country already, thanks in large part to the nearly one hundred billion dollars that Saudi Arabia alone has spent to spread Islam over the past few decades, in the United States? How many tens of thousands of mosques in recent decades all over the countries of the West have been built, and how many madrasas? Who pays for such things as the mosque, for only 100 families, that cost fifteen million dollars, in Billerica, Massachusetts? Who pays for all of those lavish palaces all over the place, that could not possibly have been put up by those who go to them? Who pays for the campaigns of Da’wa targeted at prisoners? Who pays for the Qur’ans sent out by the millions in the Western world? Who understands that a mosque is far more than a “place of worship” as some fondly believe but is, rather, a place where far more than that goes on, where politics, and geopolitics, are inculcated, where — at least in Western Europe and in south Asia — again and again and again it has been observed that people are whipped up at the khutbas (the sermons at the Friday Prayers), so much so that maddened Muslims coming out of mosques have gone on rampages against non-Muslims.
A particularly memorable example is that of the helpless Hindu who, happening to pass by as Friday Prayers were being let out, was beaten to death by Muslims who were just coming out of that “house of worship.” How many raids, on how many mosques, have been conducted in Western Europe, where false papers of all kinds, and weapons, and explosives, were found, some in false ceilings and other hiding places? When Erdogan said that “the mosques are our barracks,” he was quoting a well-known line, one that expressed a view that many Muslims have — the “mosque” is not only or merely a “house of worship” but the “barracks” in the permanent war that exists, that must exist, between Muslim and Infidel.
How many mosques have been deliberately built deliberately using the remains of temples, churches, synagogues? How many mosques were built in India, after Muslim invaders destroyed Hindu temples and temple complexes, including many of the most important ones, and quarried the stone to make mosques? Nor were Hindus the only ones to suffer. Hindu temples and temple complexes disappeared by the hundred, by the thousands. Sita Ram Goel published a two-volume work that simply listed, name by name, those Hindu temples and temple complexes known to have been destroyed by Muslims, and the stone quarried for use in mosques.
We all know, because of the diligent scholarship of Indian and British scholars, along with others from other Western lands, such as Koenraad Elst and Francois Gautier, what the Muslim invaders, the Muslim conquerors, the Muslim masters of India, did to India’s Hindus, so damaging “the wonder that was India” that it became what V. S. Naipaul famously called a “wounded civilization.” Everywhere the Muslims went they destroyed the monuments, and especially the temples and temple complexes, of the Hindus.The more famous and important the Hindu temple, the more important it was for Muslims to destroy it, to build right on its ruins, to declare – through such destruction followed by such building – that they indeed were visibly and permanently there, and there to stay, as the masters of the land. We have all heard about Babri Mosque built over the temple at Ayodha, but how many other celebrated temples and vast complexes were destroyed?
This practice of deliberately destroying the monuments and artifacts of non-Islamic civilization began at the very beginning of the Muslim conquest of India. Indeed, the very first mosque known to have been built in India was built using stone from a Jain temple (the Jains are those who refuse to kill, to hurt a fly). One opens “The World of Islam” by Ernst J. Grube (Curator, Islamic Department, Metropolitan Museum of Art), part of the series “Landmarks of the World’s Art,” and finds on p. 165 a picture of the “Kutb Mosque (Quwaat al-Islam) Delhi” shown and described:
“Built by Kutb al-din Aibak in his fortress of Lallkot near Old Delhi in 1193. This mosque is the earliest extant monument of Islamic architecture in India and its combination of local, pre-Muslim traditions and imported architectural forms is typical of the earliest period. The mosque is built on the ruins of a Jain temple…”
So the earliest “extant monument of Islamic architecture in India” was “built on the ruins of a Jain temple” — that temple being made into “ruins,” of course, by the Muslim invaders.
Wherever Muslim invaders went and conquered, they did not do so always by outright military means with an invading army, as in the case of the East Indies, where Hadrami traders came and settled, bringing Islam with them. What began as trading outposts became settlements that, in turn, became fortified, and places from which the Muslims would conduct campaigns of Da’wa. They deliberately targeted local rulers in the East Indies that were once entirely Hindu and Buddhist. And if those rulers, as in Java and Sumatra, could be persuaded to convert to Islam, their people would, in those simpler days of cuius regio, eius religio, would then “convert” their people, who would have little choice but to follow their lead. It happened in Java. It happened in Sumatra.
You can still find, especially on Bali, with its considerable Hindu population, Hindu and Buddhist structures. You can even find the celebrated Borubudur stupa, and you are delighted – are you not, but now with a pang knowing what you know, and what you fear could happen – to find such structures. After all, the two gigantic Bamiyan buddhas seemed exempt from destruction by the Muslims who reduced so much of the Greco-Bactrian civilization to rubble. Why did they wait so long? Because they had to, because until recently they didn’t have the right explosives, nor the proper expertise, until Pakistani and Saudi engineers came along to help them.
How many Buddhist structures remain in the most heavily Muslim parts of the East Indies, that is, Indonesia, such as Aceh? Where are all the Hindu and Buddhist temples that once could be found everywhere in the East Indies, for they were Hindu and Buddhist, until the forces of Islam conquered — not by direct military conquest as in the Middle East, North Africa, and India, but through other means. Where did they all go?
An early Umayyad caliph decided that “the furthest mosque” (al-masjid al-aksa), that mysterious place from which Muhammad was said to ascend to the Seventh Heaven on his winged horse Al-Buraq, and then return within the same 24-hour period, should be located in Jerusalem, a city never of Muslim interest (not mentioned even once in the Qur’an). Why did he decide that surely the place referred to must be Jerusalem, and the very spot from which the “Miraj” or Night Journey took place must surely be right on the highest spot, the one holiest of all those in the world to Jews, that is, the Temple Mount? It was there that the Mosque of Omar and the Dome of the Rock lay claim to Jerusalem for Islam, as over against the claims of the prior-in-time monotheisms, Judaism and Christianity.
If the association and significance of the Temple Mount for Jews is clear, it might be noted that the celebrated Arabic-and-Aramaic philologist Christoph Luxenberg studied closely the Arabic-language inscriptions that are inside and very high up in the dome itself of the Dome of the Rock. He has argued that these are not, as everyone seems to assume, Qur’anic — i.e., Muslim — in nature but are, rather, Christian in their content, which suggests a Christian origin for the building.
What Muslims did in placing a mythical mosque (“al-masjid al-aksa”) right there, and then building on the holiest site to Jews, in a city holy to Jews and Christians, was staking a claim that only other Muslims might believe. After all, you have to believe that a man named Muhammad had a fabulous creature, Al-Buraq, upon which he went back and forth to the Seventh Heaven, and then you further have to accept that “al-masjid al-aksa” must be a reference to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
But you do not have to be a Believer in Judaism to know that for more than a thousand years the Jews had made their capital, spiritual and political, in Jerusalem, where their history was made. You do not have to be a Believer in Christianity to know that Christianity has its origins in what Christians call the Holy Land, and especially in events that took place in Jerusalem. That difference matters.
In Damascus itself, the famous Umayyad mosque, the one that is shown to all visiting dignitaries, turns out to have been built on the ruins (or in some cases parts of the church left not in ruins, but simply incorporated) of the famous church dedicated to St. John The Baptist. It took a while, however, for this to happen. After all, whenever the marauding Arabs, bringing Islam with them, conquered, they found established communities of Christians, Jews and, in Persia, Zoroastrians. These people did not disappear; they were not converted in large numbers overnight. It took centuries of having to endure Muslim rule, and the status of being reduced to tolerated dhimmis, that is, a status of humiliation, degradation, and physical insecurity, that led inexorably to more and more people converting to Islam, to join the group of permanent overlords and masters. The pace of such conversion quickened as those who had remained steadfast saw so many others convert, thereby changing their status and at once improving their treatment. In the 7th century, after the Muslim Arabs had conquered Damascus in 635 A.D., local Christians (who were by far the majority still) continued to worship in several churches. They even continued to worship at St. John’s, though now confined only to the western aisle, while Muslims used the eastern. The Muslim overlords were still vastly outnumbered, as they were everywhere in the lands the Arabs conquered, and had to proceed slowly. Eventually, about seventy years after the initial conquest, the Umayyad caliph Abd el-Melek took over the entire St. John’s for Muslim use – that is, St. John’s became an Umayyad mosque, and with building, and rebuilding, and destruction of parts that had been St. John’s, and the use of the stone, and the turning to other uses of some of its walls, what had been the Church of St. John became the Umayyad Mosque we see today, a symbol of Umayyad power and might and of the victory over the local Christians.
In Constantinople, which for a thousand years was the largest, richest, most populous city in all of Christendom, there were hundreds of churches. The greatest of them all was the Hagia Sophia.
On May 29, 1453, after centuries of first the Seljuk, then the Osmanli Turks seizing control of ever larger parts of what had been the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim invaders finally conquered Constantinople. They razed many of the churches in the city. Western visitors can find a diorama of Constantinople, showing its hundreds of churches before the Muslim conquest, and be amazed at how on every corner there seemed to be another church. That diorama is discreetly tucked away on an upper floor of the Museum of Greek and Roman Antiquities, in the Topkapi complex, in present-day Istanbul. But not all the churches were razed. And the Hagia Sophia was not razed, but was turned into a mosque, a sign of what Mehmet Fatih, Mehmet the Conqueror, had done, a symbol of Muslim triumph.
Two decades ago, as Muslims began to make their demands on the host countries that had so generously and heedlessly allowed them to settle deep within Western Europe, that is, behind the borders that Muslims themselves were taught to regard as enemy lines, the lines of Dar al-Harb, the Domain of War, in Italy President Pertino thought that Muslims in Italy might respond with gratitude, and Muslims outside of Italy might even make it more possible for the millions of Christians, both indigenous and among the millions of guest-workers in the rich oil states of the Gulf, to open churches and to practice their faith. It was not to be. Government land was donated for the building of a huge mosque, not a mile from the Vatican, but when it was built, and when the Arab Ambassadors arrived at the ceremonies to open the mosque, there was no talk of gratitude, and certainly no talk of any reciprocal gesture, by any Arab or Muslim state, anywhere. Italian witnesses of the event spoke of the air of triumphalism, the palpable feeling that a beachhead for Islam had, with this giant mosque, been created. Those Italians who watched, with growing unease, would have been still more uneasy, had they known that among Muslims there is a belief, based on a story, or Hadith, about Muhammad predicting that first Constantinople or Rum (Byzantium) would fall to Islam, and then Rome, the Rome in Italy, would fall to Islam. The giant mosque was a symbol for Pertini, and other Italians, of Western, of Italian, tolerance and goodwill and trust. But for the Muslims present, the giant mosque built on land donated by the Italian state had nothing to do with tolerance, or trust, or good will that needed to be, or might be, reciprocated by the Muslim beneficiaries of that tolerance, that trust, that good will.
And Mayor Bloomberg, who has confused himself with President George Washington, and the Grand Zero Mosque with the Touro Synagogue in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, and Feisal Abdul Rauf, a most cunning and most sinister man (to fully understand both adjectives, however, you would have to know him not as Mayor Bloomberg knew him, as an ingratiating, even oily, interlocutor, but through his books, the Arabic and English versions of which can be compared) with Moses Seixas, is now making the same mistake.